Without Marching 100, Atlanta Football Classic to "reinvent" halftime

6:24 PM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- For many people, the Atlanta Football Classic is one of the biggest local events of the year. 

This weekend, more than 100,000 people will descend upon downtown Atlanta for three days of events, capped off by Saturday's football game between the Southern University Jaguars and Florida A&M University Rattlers.

It is the longest running football rivalry in HBCU school history, and the game is usually marked by the highly anticipated battle of the bands competition during halftime.

But this year, things will look a little different. One band will be notably absent. 

FAMU's famed Marching 100 band is suspended through 2013, following last year's hazing death of drum major Robert Champion of Decatur.

Now in its 24th year, Classic Weekend is a staple in Atlanta. The three-day event celebrates academic excellence, complete with a day-long young men's symposium, robotics tournament and Saturday's Parade of Excellence. High school students will join bands and other entertainers in a parade down Peachtree Street starting at 10am. 

But during halftime, how do you replace what many consider to be the main event?

For the event's organizers, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, it means changing the entire format. 

Southern University's Human Jukebox band will kick off the halftime show, followed by performances from rappers Doug E. Fresh, Future and singer Chaka Khan.

"We see this as a time to really reinvent what halftime shows have meant to historically black football games over the years," said 100 Black Men CEO John Grant. 

"Traditionally, we've had a battle of the bands. This year, we're creating a Superbowl-like experience."

Grant said they will likely keep the new format next year, though hopefully with both bands on the field. Despite the change, he said the absence of the Marching 100 won't stop the celebration.

"It's all about people getting together, seeing old friends and having a great time," he said.

For a complete list of events and tickets to Saturday's game, visit the Atlanta Football Classic website.

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