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SWT in for Aggies at Battle of Flowers


San Antonio Express-News

By Benjamin Olivo

It’s been a tradition within the tradition of Fiesta for years.

Those impeccable khaki uniforms. The thundering sound of the brass players and drum lines. The precision march steps.

The massive Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band from Texas A University has been a favorite at the Battle of Flowers Parade since the late ’60s.

But this year, Southwest Texas State University’s Bobcat Marching Band and the Southwest Texas Strutters pep squad will stand in for the Aggies during the 2003 parade, officials announced Wednesday.

“It was an academic scheduling conflict,” explained Marilyn Eldridge, chairwoman of the Battle of Flowers Parade. “The day of the Battle of Flowers Parade is the last day of classes (at Texas A) before finals week.”

Officials also announced University of Texas at San Antonio President Ricardo Romo and his wife, Harriett, a UTSA associate professor of sociology, as grand marshals.

“It’s a great honor for me because I grew up in San Antonio,” Romo said at a news conference.

The theme for this year’s downtown spectacle ˜ dozens of marching bands, extravagant floats and more ˜ is “An American Panorama: A Celebration of the Land of the Free.” The parade is set for April 25. The vanguard will start at 11:30 a.m., the parade at 12:45 p.m.

The Aggie Band is scheduled to return for the 2004 Battle of Flowers Parade.

The last time the Aggies did not march was in 1999, when Texas Tech’s Goin’ Band from Raiderland took its place.

The Southwest Texas Strutters, known for their synchronized line dancing, formed in 1960. The group is nearly 100 members strong and boasts a résumé that includes the inaugurations of two U.S. presidents and appearances on MTV’s “Total Request Live” and David Letterman.

Details for the 66th Battle of Flowers Band Festival also were announced.

The festival, featuring area high school bands showing off their best routines, begins at 7 p.m. April 24 at Alamo Stadium. The theme is “All Roads Lead to Fiesta.”