In the 1960s, Ohio Wesleyan University dissolved its marching band which had been performing since the 1920s.

Things were scheduled to change Sept. 15, with the appearance of the new OWU Marching Bishops band at the football game against the College of Wooster at Selby Stadium in Delaware.

Wesleyan took the first steps toward creating a new marching band last year when it hired Mary Kate McNally as band director.

"I'm delighted to have a marching band back on campus," OWU President Rock Jones said. "It's been a university goal for a few years, and I commend everyone who made it happen, especially Mary Kate McNally."

McNally received a bachelor's degree in music from Henderson State and a master's from Kent State. Her experience includes directing the music program at Deer Trail School District in Colorado.

She said she's spent the past year preparing for the new band.

The result is a 31-member band with a seven-member color guard. Twenty-four of the band members are freshmen, she said.

The band began with a week of rehearsals before fall classes started. At the Sept. 15 game, the band was scheduled to play the national anthem, perform a halftime show on the field and play songs in the stands.

They also gave a preview performance at Main Street Delaware's First Friday event Sept. 7.

"The Marching Bishops already are creating new excitement and energy both on campus and in the community, as evidenced by their splendid performance at First Friday," Jones said. "I look forward to the impact the band will have on campus as it continues to grow and gain the attention that it deserves."

The band includes drums and brass and woodwind instruments ranging from flute to sousaphone.

The band will perform at home football games, McNally said, and will march in Delaware's Christmas parade Dec. 2.

The band members major in about 20 different subjects and are "a passionate and focused group of young individuals," she said.

McNally said she hopes to see an increase in membership next year and even this winter when a pep band is formed to play in the stands during basketball games. The pep band will welcome student musicians not in the marching band, she said.

The OWU community is excited to have a marching band, she said, and understands the band "has a positive influence on campus spirit and the campus community."

During the last day of band camp, the musicians entered Selby Stadium during football practice and played the school's fight song. The musicians then were invited to join the team huddle. In addition, the cheerleading squad wants to choreograph dance numbers to the band's songs, McNally said.

The band also has been supported by the OWU music department. Faculty members Richard Edwards and Nancy Gamso led a practice for the wind instrument players.

Dwayne Todd, vice president for student engagement and success, earlier said OWU officials are not sure why the band dissolved decades ago. He said the band's return is part of a push to "enhance co-curricular options for students on campus."

The university bought the band track suit style uniforms, with jackets bearing the Marching Bishop logo on the chest, plus windbreaker pants and ballcaps. Compared to more traditional band uniforms, McNally said one advantage of OWU's uniforms is they easily can be cleaned in a washing machine.

While students typically own instruments such as trumpets and clarinets, OWU purchased some instruments, such as a sousaphone. McNally estimated the cost of instruments and uniforms totaled about $20,000.

She said she has found it increasingly fulfilling to spend a year preparing for the band's formation, and then see the plans come to fruition.

"To be a teacher is to be a student forever," she said. "You never stop learning. It's a pretty outstanding thing to be able to run the band."