DES MOINES, Iowa -- Since 1984, the Southwest Iowa Honor Marching Band (SWIHMB) has traveled all over to perform at some of the biggest bowl games in the country. Now in just a few days, they will perform again in front of a familiar crowd.
Over a year ago, members of SWIHMB starting preparing for one of their biggest performances of their high school careers, the Outback Bowl.
"We just don't do the bowl game, we do the Outback Bowl parade, which is really what we are known for,” said David Clark, SWIHMB director. “We perform in the Iowa State Parade every other year with this group."
But things got even sweeter after bowl selection day. The Southwest Iowa group found out they would be playing for their home crowd, the Hawkeye faithful.
"We were just kind of hoping we would get one of the Big Ten schools, either Iowa or Nebraska, and out of sheer luck we ended up with Iowa, so we were all pretty excited about that,” Clark said.
Over 180 performers from 26 different high school bands across southwest Iowa all come together for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"It's an extremely small percentage of people who even have the opportunity to step on a field. So for these kids to have a chance to actually be a part of the Outback Bowl, not just sit on the bleachers and buying a ticket which anybody can do, they are actually a part of the experience. That's really cool and exciting,” Clark said.
According to Clark, this is the first time he can remember the band ever playing in front of an in-state school at a bowl game. Couple that with a performance alongside 30 other high school bands, and it makes for one great trip.
“I think this is the first time that we've had a ‘dog in the hunt,’ if you want to call it that. I think I've had more excitement now and [there are] last-second chaperones saying, 'hey if you have spots I'd love to go down,” Clark said.
On Friday, they are having some fun in Orlando, but come Sunday, they will head to Tampa and prepare for the big game on New Year's Day. The Hawkeyes are playing Mississippi State at 11 a.m.