All of downtown Boulder comes to life. The musicians play, the crowds cheer, the parade marches westward on the Pearl Street Mall.
Boulder bands together to celebrate the University of Colorado’s football team during the Pearl Street Stampede, a local tradition of team spirit. It’s how many fans start game day on a high note.
The Pearl Street Stampede has been rocking downtown Boulder for 14 years. Former athletic director Mike Bohn started it, in collaboration with CU, downtown businesses and the Downtown Boulder Partnership.
Hundreds of fans gather on the mall, starting at 7 p.m. outside the Boulder County Courthouse in the 1300 block of Pearl Street, and cheer as the Golden Buffalo Marching Band fills the air with music, in particular, CU’s fight songs. You will also find the starting members of the football team and coaching staff at this kick-off party. The cheerleaders perform and Chip the mascot gets the crowd riled up.
“Kids and fans come up and say hello to the starters after practice before they go to the team hotel before the game,” says Rachel Ripken, spokesperson for CU’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. “It’s the only place they stop and do a meet-and-greet thing, which is what’s unique about the stampede. It’s the last chance to see them before they go and play.”
The band starts the stampede by playing a set in front of the courthouse, followed by a short introduction to announce the band, spirit squad and football team. The spirit squad dances and cheers and the gathering takes motion up the mall.
The gathering moves westward along Pearl Street, stopping at each intersection to party and perform a few short songs, following a vintage fire truck that’s driven by community leader Stephen Tebo. Sometimes special guests make an appearance on the fire truck, like the hall of fame inductees or members of other CU sports teams, like basketball, volleyball or golf players. At each intersection, passersby (including people eating at area restaurants) can listen to music and participants toss out little footballs to the kids.
The mini, casual parade ends where the walking mall ends, around 11th and Pearl. There, the music wraps up and the crowd makes its way to Folsom Field.
The stampede lasts about 20 minutes.
“It really gets the excitement going for the evening and the rest of the weekend,” says Ripken.
The stampede is free, family-friendly and open to the public. Even if you don’t have a game ticket, you can still get in on this action. Arrive early if you want to get up close to the excitement and have a chance to talk to the players (or get an autograph) because the mall can get pretty packed.
The Homecoming Stampede
Several years ago, CU’s homecoming parade fused with the stampede. Homecoming used to start early the morning before the game with a parade on University Hill, but it moved down to the Pearl Street Mall as a way to better bring together CU and the city of Boulder, Ripken says.
Only unlike a regular Pearl Street Stampede, the homecoming stampede moves in reverse, starting at 11th and Pearl streets and marching eastward until it ends on the courthouse lawn. This is to allow for a bigger presentation of speakers and performers when the marching band stops.
The homecoming stampede also includes floats by other CU students, groups and Greek life.
Meet the Band
The Golden Buffalo Marching Band (active since 1908) is the official spirit band for the university, led by director Matthew Roeder. It’s made up of 225 members from all of the different schools on campus. In addition to the stampede, you can hear the band play at home games, bowl games and some away games.
If you enjoy the music and energy of the stampede, stay in your seat for the halftime shows. Some shows are themed and the line-up for 2017 is pretty fun, like “The Amazing Race Show,” with scores from Van Halen and even “Gangnam Style.” Or the Karaoke Show, with songs that the crowd loves to sing along to, like “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond and “Living’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.
Any student can audition to join the band. Keep up with the marching band’s events on its Facebook page.
Learn CU’s Fight Songs
The music is a big part of the Pearl Street Stampede. CU has three main fight songs, typically sung all together in a series: “Glory Colorado,” “Go Colorado” and “Fight CU.” Learn the words (they’re easy) and you can join the crowd in celebration. Listen to the marching band music here. Here are the lyrics:
Glory, glory Colorado
Glory, glory Colorado
Glory, glory Colorado
Hurray for the Silver and the Gold!
Away we go, go Buffalo
We want a Colorado victory
Show them we’re out to win this game
Come on Colorado push on to fame
Fight for the silver, fight for the gold, give a rousing cheer
Hey Buffalo, we’re gonna show
Go, Colorado, let’s go!
Fight CU down the field
CU must win
Fight, fight for victory
CU knows no defeat
We’ll roll up a mighty score
Never give in
Shoulder to shoulder
We will fight, fight
Fight, fight, fight!