Friday, September 28, 2012

Irish Traditions: Midnight Drummer’s Circle

Before the band, and the drum line, perform on Saturdays (shown above), they put on a show for fans in front of the Golden Dome at midnight on the eve of kickoff. (Photo - Brian Spurlock / US PRESSWIRE )

One of the best things about Notre Dame football traditions is that they happen at all times of the day – and night. In fact, one of the biggest events, and a huge fan favorite, occurs at midnight — The Midnight Drummer’s Circle.

At a time when you’d think most visitors to campus would be back in their hotels preparing for game day, the campus is actually teeming with activity. On the Friday night before home games, students and fans alike gather at the bottom of the steps under the Golden Dome and wait for the drummers to arrive. After the bells of the Basilica chime the midnight hour, the drumline arrives and forms a circle within the middle of the crowd, marking the official beginning of game day.

Once in place, the drummers play for the crowd for forty-five minutes, playing the drum cadences that will be played in Notre Dame Stadium during the football game. These include most of the offensive, defensive, and sideline cheers that the band plays throughout the game. They also play the major fan favorites, the Notre Dame Fight Song and the Rakes of Mallow, which often leads to impromptu jigging from the adoring crowd.

The Midnight Drummer’s Circle, like Trumpets Under the Dome, is a fairly recent tradition. It originated in 2000 by members of the Notre Dame Drumline. “The idea of having it at midnight is that it would be recognized as the official kickoff to game day,” says assistant band director, Sam Sanchez. (Excerpt from )

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