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FILE PHOTO The Marching Hundred is marking a momentous milestone in 2019, with 75 years taking the field for Russellville.

Marching 100 celebrates 75 years ‘Forever Golden’

Russellville band director Jeremy Willis said although organizing a halftime show only takes a few months, this year’s show is one he has been thinking about for three years as the Marching Hundred celebrates its 75th anniversary.

This year’s theme, Forever Golden, includes “Ecstasy of Gold,” “Gold” by Imagine Dragons, “Monobina” from the movie “Gold,” “Plain Gold Ring,” “24 Karat” and “House of Gold.”

“We have this saying, ‘Forever Golden,’ which basically means that if you go to school at Russellville or you’re one of us, you’re one of us for life,” Willis said. “So we really wanted to play off of that and tie it into the school and school spirit.”

Willis said the show is filled with gold, but spectators can find other imagery throughout the show as well, including an infinity loop to represent always being a Golden Tiger.

“It’s a thank you, almost, to all of the people who have ever been a part of this organization,” Willis said, “ – the people that made it grow and flourish and still be around today as a place for kids to belong.”

Alumni of the Marching Hundred will have the chance to join the celebration Oct. 18 with the opportunity to march with the band and enjoy a reception to follow in the band room.

“I tell them that 75 years ago, the people who were in band weren’t necessarily thinking about what it was going to look like 75 years from then,” Willis said. “They just had something they wanted to do, and they did it. We have to honor the people who did this before us but also leave something for the people 75 years from now, that they can still be a part of this.”

This year’s marching band has 149 members, and approximately 350 students participate in band from grades six through 12. The Marching Hundred has grown over the years, with this year being the most students to physically march in the halftime show at 135.

When the Marching Hundred first began in 1944 under the direction of Hollis Abrahams, the first rehearsal took place in the Franklin County courthouse. Although the band program at Russellville came into existence in 1931, the band’s “tradition of excellence” did not begin until 1944, which is considered the origin of the Marching Hundred under Abrahams.

To incorporate the community, the Marching Hundred is accepting design contest entries for a 75-year anniversary T-shirt. The winner of the contest will receive $50 and a T-shirt with the winning design on it.

The design should be on an 8.5-by-11-inch white background, since the shirts will be white. The design should incorporate no more than five colors and include band images. Submissions should include the applicant’s complete name and contact number on the back and should be sent to Willis by Sept. 20.