After the parade, we got a chance to walk down Beale Street behind the end of the parade, looking at the crowds on both sides of the street who were waiting for the pep rallies for both Liberty Bowl teams.
The battle between the two Memphis drumlines soon attracted the attention of the Iowa State drumline that was warming up nearby. They marched over to where we were on the other side of the street and played one of their cadences for us.
The other musical entry from Memphis in the Liberty Bowl Parade was the Star Steppers Drill Team and Drummers, one of the few Memphis majorette or drill teams to still include a drumline as was once traditional for all Memphis drill teams. At the end of the parade route, the dancers and drummers paraded down Lt. George W. Lee Avenue between the Fed Ex Forum and Beale Street, then posted up at the Fourth Street corner across from Church Park. When Bellevue Middle School’s majorettes and drummers marched up to the same spot, a series of drum battles began between the two Memphis squads, attracting a fairly large crowd of locals and visitors alike.
I suppose that there has been a Liberty Bowl Parade each year, but this is the first year I heard about it, so I rode downtown Sunday to check it out. This year’s teams in the Liberty Bowl are Iowa State and the University of Tulsa, and from the looks of Beale Street Sunday, Iowa State brought a lot more fans into the city than Tulsa did. The parade route was short, pretty much just the length of Beale Street, but riders on floats threw Mardi-Gras-style beads, and there were marching bands, mostly from the Midwest. Although the weather was chilly, the Beale Street sidewalks were standing room only.