K-State marching band pub crawl brings campus and community together

The K-State marching band visits over 40 restaurants during their pub crawl. The event helps bring excitement to the Manhattan community before game day. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

The sound of saxophones and drumbeats fill Manhattan streets each Friday night before a home game as the Kansas State marching band performs its pub crawl, an event to bring excitement to Manhattan residents, marching band director Frank Tracz said. 

“It brings a tremendous amount of camaraderie, spirit and joy to not only Kansas State and the students that do it, but also the community,” Tracz said.

During the pub crawl, several members of the Pride of Wildcat Land travel around areas of Manhattan in “pep bands,” Tracz said. 

“There’s three bands,” Tracz said. “There’s almost 40 restaurants and bar establishments that we go into on a Friday night, from Colbert Hills, to West Loop, to the Walmart area, to Poyntz Avenue and Aggieville — they’re everywhere. Every place that has a place to eat and drink in Manhattan has the band show up on Friday nights.” 

Tracz said this year, the marching band has reached capacity on businesses it can visit during the pub crawl.

“It’s grown to the point that … we can’t take any more,” Tracz said. “We probably won’t grow it anymore because there’s just no time. It’s a long evening for all of us, the staff and the kids included.” 

Michael Thompson, third-year baritone player for the Pride, said he is a member of the Poyntz band and enjoys playing in the pub crawl regardless of how rigorous it is.

“It’s actually really fun,” Thompson, senior in political science, said. “You get to run around wherever you go. … It’s usually a bustling atmosphere and then we run in. I’d like to hope we get everyone excited for the game day.” 

Tracz said the pub crawl increases the bond between K-State students and Manhattan residents.

“There’s a ‘town and gown’ effect and a relationship, which means the relationship of the university to the community it lives in,” Tracz said. “We have a really strong one here at K-State all around, but the pub crawl solidifies that. … A lot of the people in these restaurants don’t go to football or basketball games, but they still get to hear the band. It’s a community thing.”

Dennis Cook, director of the Aggieville Business Association, said the pub crawl has positive financial effects on Manhattan because it brings business to local restaurants.

“There are people who show up knowing full well, ‘I am specifically here because I know what time the band comes through and I want to experience that,’” Cook said. “It really helps the Friday night before a home-game–experience financially. There’s not a place that they [the marching band] go that isn’t at or near capacity because people want to be a part of that.” 

Tracz said there is also financial benefit for the students of the marching band.

“We charge a fee for the band to come to each restaurant or bar,” Tracz said. “We use that money to give each student in the band a scholarship for being in pub crawl.”

Tracz said though the Pride will no longer accept new solicitors, it will continue the pub crawl for as long as possible.

“I know everybody enjoys it,” Tracz said. “We’ve been in establishments that have probably changed ownership half-a-dozen times with different people, but it’s still there and we still keep doing it. We’re going to continue to do that, spread the purple spirit and have fun around the community. That’s what we’re doing it for.”