Ohio State Marching Band celebrates 50th alumni reunion this Saturday

September 19, 2018
photo of Script Ohio at alumni reunion

On Saturday, Sept. 22, as part of the Ohio State vs. Tulane football game, The Ohio State University Marching Band and the TBDBITL Alumni Club will celebrate the 50th band alumni reunion. More than 770 alumni of The Best Damn Band in the Land have registered to participate, including more than 662 who will march on the field for halftime alongside the current band — creating a combined ensemble of over 850 musicians.

As part of the reunion festivities, 100-year-old Ohio State alumnus Anthony Violi of Steubenville, Ohio, a lifelong music educator who played trumpet in the band from 1937-1942, will dot the i in the home-side Script Ohio at the conclusion of halftime.

photo of Anthony Violi
Anthony Violi, who played trumpet in the band from 1937-1942, will dot the i at the reunion game on Sept. 22

In this quadruple Script Ohio, a staple of the reunion game since its first appearance in 1977, the current band will perform facing the student section at the south end of the stadium, while the alumni band simultaneously will perform three separate Scripts facing the north, east and west sides.

“Our annual reunion game provides a sight like none other in the college marching band world,” says Christopher Hoch, director of Marching and Athletic Bands and assistant professor in the School of Music. “This day always provides the perfect reminder of what’s possible through lifelong musicianship, and this is exemplified through Tony Violi, who, even at 100 years old, wouldn’t dream of missing our 50th reunion.”

While sousaphone players are typically the only ones to dot the i, both in the student and alumi bands, on rare occasions exceptions are made for exceptional individuals.

Violi will join the ranks of other honorary i-dotters selected by the band’s alumni for the reunion game, including former band directors Jack Evans and Paul Droste (along with their wives Carol and Anne, respectively), John and Annie Glenn, and Les Wexner. Others selected as i-dotters for the student band over the years include former coaches Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce, Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus, and former band director Jon Woods. In all, the honor has been extended to fewer than 20 individuals over Script Ohio’s 82-year history.

The first alumni reunion was held in 1966 with about 200 former band members in attendance and featured the first-ever double Script Ohio. After a brief hiatus from 1968-1970, the Marching Band has held its reunion every year since 1971 — making this year’s the 50th.

“Our alumni look forward to reunion weekend every year, and this one being the 50th makes it extra special,” says Derrick Mills, president of the TBDBITL Alumni Club. “It’s an opportunity for fellowship with your TBDBITL alumni friends, to meet the current band members and perform at Skull Session and in Ohio Stadium ‘just one more time.’” 

On Saturday, Skull Session, the band’s free pregame pep rally, will begin at 1:10 p.m. at St. John Arena. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. Ahead of the game’s 3:30 kickoff, the student and alumni bands will come down the Ohio Stadium ramp for a combined pregame performance.

The bands’ combined halftime performance will feature the music arrangements of Ken McCoy, a long-serving music arranger of the Ohio State Marching Band who died earlier this year. Halftime will conclude with quadruple Script Ohio facing all sides of Ohio Stadium.