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Sparty Watch: Michigan State marching band keeps decades long tradition alive

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Posted at 10:18 PM, Oct 29, 2021

(WXYZ) — As the University of Michigan and Michigan State University prepare for tomorrow's football game, members of the MSU marching band are keeping the Spartan tradition alive and guarding the school's bronze landmark statue, Sparty.

It’s a Spartan tradition that people take very seriously.

“For the past week we’ve been watching Sparty,” Michigan State senior Emma Bush said.

An extra close eye, especially with the big game coming up.

They believe a Wolverine fan attempted to harm Sparty on Wednesday.

“A couple eggs thrown, some of the flower beds were trampled but nothing major happened," senior Erika Christensen said. "No one hit Sparty.”

Emma Bush and Erika Christensen are both seniors on the Spartan Marching Band. Before and after practice, band members take shifts guarding the statue.

“This is something that is deeply rooted in our band tradition since the 60s.”

For these bandmates it’s voluntary, but twenty years ago it was a job for track and field athlete and student Ariana King.

“Sparty watch is deff necessary. You got to guard him,” King said.

King, who is originally from Ann Arbor used to watch Sparty for 8 hours at a time when she was a freshman working for Campus Public Safety.

“You’re camped out in a lawn chair. You bring as many coats and blankets that you can carry,” she said. “I would take my textbook and a flashlight and try to read.”

Two decades later, she says she wouldn’t trade in that experience.

“I’m definitely proud now because it's a small number of people who can graduate and say that they did Sparty watch,” she said.

As part of Sparty watch, it is also tradition for the head coach to pay the watchers a visit with boxes of pizza.

“Every year they’ve come out," Christensen said. "Dantonio has done it every year.”

This year, head coach Mel Tucker continued the tradition.

“He did thank us for guarding the statue and all the work we put in as a band.”

The Spartan marching band will take the field with Michigan's band for a halftime performance.

“It's going to be a really good show," Bush said.

But even during the show, they say someone is always keeping an eye on Sparty.