By Ben Kleppinger

If you have recently attended an Eastern home game, you might have noticed an extra bounce in the step of the marching band.Thanks to an $80,000 grant from the “Foundation Initiative Project,” Eastern’s marching band has been sporting brand new uniforms since August, said Ken Haddix, Eastern’s assistant band director.

Haddix said the old uniforms had been around since before he started working at Eastern. Jessi Keys, the graduate assistant who put together the grant application for the uniforms, said the band’s former garb was more than 10 years old.

“(That’s) a decade’s worth of different people being in them,” she said.

Keys said when she heard about the Foundation Initiative Project, with $1 million to award in grants, she began to think how nice it would be for Eastern to have new uniforms.

Keys said the new uniforms put Eastern on the cutting edge of marching-band style. Black pants for marching bands are all the rage now, she said.

“I think UK still marches white pants, so we’re ahead of them,” she added.

Besides new uniforms, Eastern’s marching band has also recently received many new instruments, including sousaphones, marching horns and a new drum line, Haddix said. And Eastern will be receiving new baritone horns as well, he added.

John Partin, the oldest member of Eastern’s marching band, said the new instruments are wonderful. The new silver sousaphones are especially fetching, he said.

“We only use those on game days,” he added.

Partin said the new instruments and uniforms have improved the self-esteem of the band and made everyone more serious about performing well.

“When you put the uniform on, you’re representing the university,” he said.

Partin said wearing a uniform for Eastern gives him a sense of pride in his school.

The new uniforms are very comfortable, fit well, and take about five minutes to get into, he said.

As for the old uniforms, Partin said they were “almost kind of high school-ish.”

He said Eastern now has “a more distinguished, professional look than before.”

If you want to see Eastern’s marching band in action, the next Eastern home game is Oct. 13. Partin said the new uniforms are worth seeing.

“They’re pimp,” he said.