Former Blue Band Director Ned C. Deihl shares his insight on the band’s traditions after reading last month’s story, “The Penn State Blue Band: Marching Through History.” Learn more about the origins of the Floating Lions and the drum major’s flip by reading on.
“Good Insider article Sept. 23, ‘The Penn State Blue Band: Marching Through History.’ Good photos and description of the Floating Lions formation. Your readers might be interested in the origin of the most prominent Blue Band tradition, the pre game and the signature Floating Lions drill. The Floating Lions was created and designed in 1965 by [me, then the assistant director] using moving figurines. No computer charting in those days. It was introduced as a halftime feature in the game with Pitt, our traditional arch rival in those days. Interestingly, there was resistance, particularly among the upperclassmen, to the new eight steps to five yards necessary to execute downfield drills coordinated with band music (traditionally written in eight-count phrases) and, subsequently, to execute the Floating Lions which the band members accepted enthusiastically.
The Floating Lions became the gemstone of the pre game the following year (1966) and has been the Blue Band's trademark for 45 years. The logo PSU for the pre game was designed a few years later, and the tunnel entrance was inaugurated when the tunnel was built for the enlarged stadium. Essentially, the pre game routine has not changed much through the years although it has been enlarged as the band has doubled in size.
By the way, Eric Felack, the non- flipping drum major, was an excellent leader and front man. At that time the flip was not a required part of the audition. Eric was tall, and the flip for a tall man with a tall shako (drum major hat) is almost impossible. Let's hope we never run out of short "flippers" because the crowd definitely loves this tradition.”
-- Ned C. Deihl, Blue Band director, 1975-1996