The usual shimmer and shine found at Southgate Mall got an added boost on Sunday when the University of Montana’s drum line and spirit squads arrived with boisterous fanfare.
Starting at JC Penney Court, the maroon and silver throng marched to the Clock Tower to officially kick off the week of homecoming celebrations for the University of Montana.
The high-flying acrobatics and sassy dancing stopped mall traffic for an hour and the drum line made the place rattle and hum.
“We came to see it all and to see Monte,” said Jacque Rose, who arrived for the show with her husband, Andrew, and their two young children.
“Homecoming is huge in our house – my dad played basketball for UM and my husband graduated from UM.”
“We don’t have tickets to the football game, we have two kids,” she said. “We wish we did – but that’s OK, life goes on.”
Janie Kruger just happened to be in the mall when the high-spirited event began, and while it was a coincidence that she caught the show, she planned long ago to be at the homecoming parade next Saturday.
“I love the parade,” she said. “I always go.”
Austin Clark, who plays horn in the marching band, was on hand to support his drum line friends.
Because the mall isn’t big enough to contain the entire – and thunderous – marching band, just the drum line was asked to play.
Clark said he doesn’t mind one bit – the big event is when the Grizzlies battle Portland State University’s Vikings on the football field Saturday.
It’s a thrill, he said, when the band takes the field and plays to a full house of tens of thousands of people.
“I was born and raised in Missoula, so I have always been a Griz fan, and now I get to be part of the tradition,” the UM sophomore said. “We get to play all this fun music and be a part of all the excitement.”
Keep your ears open for his favorite song the band plays – “Holiday” by Green Day.
“It has a lot of really cool horn lines in it,” Clark said.
Clark’s father, Jim, said he expects the football game will be a good one.
“I’m excited for the Grizzlies,” he said. “After that horrible loss on Saturday, we will mount a huge comeback.
“That kind of thing won’t happen twice in a row.”
Homecoming is the perfect way to get the team back on track and on its winning streak, Jim said.
“Homecoming is such a Missoula tradition, it’s so huge here and it gets everybody together.”
Bill and Marilyn Marek have been married for 56 years, and in all that time they haven’t missed a single homecoming parade, and until recently, held season tickets to the football games.
“It’s an exciting time for Missoula,” said Bill, who explained he came to the homecoming kickoff celebration Sunday to cheer on his granddaughter, Annie, who plays in the drum line.
“It’s exciting for the whole town and it’s great that everyone participates in it.”
Like Jim Clark, the Mareks have faith the Grizzlies will rebound from their loss against Northern Arizona University’s Lumberjacks.
“The Grizzlies – they will come back,” Bill said. “It was disappointing,” Marilyn said. “But I think they probably learned a lot from that experience and they will move on – and win.”