Since 1919, the Harvard band has supported Harvard Athletics with spectacular music and endless enthusiasm.
The world’s first university “scramble” band, the group presents a comic story at halftime of football games with demonstrative field formations, painful puns and a series of props. All of the music is student-arranged and updated regularly to keep a fresh repetoire. Notable shows include the 1968 Playboy show, featured on the magazine’s cover, the 1979 Lone Ranger show, complete with white-horse-riding drum major, and the 1994 playing of 1812 Overture. More recently, band shows have featured working Iron Man suits, snowball fights and 15-foot-long dragons.
As much as the band likes to keep things new and exciting, the team has a series of traditions that can be observed throughout football games, such as tossing confetti and flowers in the fourth quarter. The flowers hold a special place in the band’s heart. In a tradition that dates back to the 1950s, Alice Tondel, fondly known as “Mom,” gave yellow chrysanthemums to the dates of the then all-male Harvard band. Though the band integrated in 1970, Mom continued to watch over the band until her death in 1993. Today, the team throws flowers in her memory.
Every week, the band’s ranks swell with returning alumni, known as "Crusties," who play with the band and teach cheers from their eras with the team.