When halftime interrupts the crunch of colliding pads in the Florida-Florida State game this Saturday, the FSU Marching Chiefs, the subjects of this pictorial journal, will swing into spectacular, close-order musical action. Three hundred strong, the Marching Chiefs move through their formations in precise 22½" steps, and 16 majorettes, 22 flag bearers and eight rifle bearers step out to the stirring sound of a 40-piece trumpet section and 28 drums, named according to size from Bitsy to Bertha. Florida State occasionally may lose a football game, but never a halftime show.
After a six-day work week—two hours of en masse practicing each day plus scales and arpeggios on the side—the Chiefs are ready for their 12-minute pregame and 12-minute halftime shows. For away games they load themselves into seven buses, their props into one van and then go for it. After an on-site dress rehearsal (uniform pants only) and the application of war paint, it's time to hit the stadium.
Florida State players of both sorts are keyed up as halftime approaches.
Horns up!!! A star is born in 15 seconds, thanks to three weeks of drilling. The Chiefs play six tunes at halftime: Dixieland to Top 40 to the classics. They also execute at least six formations per show, from lines to squares to circles to spell-outs. When the game's on, the members despair and exult depending on whether it looks as if their team's bubble will burst. When it's over, they're usually the last ones off the field. For all this, the Marching Chiefs—half of whom are music majors—earn an hour of credit. As one says, "We get paid in applause."