|The University of Florida Fightin' Gator Marching Band|
|School||University of Florida|
|Director||John M. Watkins, Jr.|
|Assistant Director||Archie G. Birkner IV|
The University of Florida Fightin' Gator Marching Band, also known as The Pride of the Sunshine, is the official marching band for the University of Florida. The current era of the band is also referred to as The Sound of the Gator Nation. They perform at every Florida Gators home football game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and also at various other events such as pep rallies, parades, and the annual Orange and Blue spring scrimmage game. A full band usually travels to one away game a year while at other games a small/medium-sized pep band will attend. Members of the Gator Band, as well as other University of Florida students, are encouraged to join other ensembles such as concert band, jazz band, basketball band, and volleyball band. The majorettes (twirlers) for the marching band are called the Gatorettes. The color guard is called the Florida Visual Ensemble.
The first band at the University of Florida was founded by "Pug" Hamilton in 1914. It had 16 members and was called "The Cadet Band". The first band office was in Anderson Hall and the first band room was in the Women's Gymnasium. One of the first women in Gator Band was Sophy Mae Mitchell of Sebring, Florida in 1948. After marching with the banner in her first year in the band, Mitchell was invited back to play the bell lyre for the remainder of her college career. She frequently returns to the Alumni Band games along with over 100 other Gator Band alumni. In 1972 Gator Band was featured at the opening of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. In 1997 Gator Band participated in the Walt Disney World 25th Anniversary Celebration.
The Steinbrenner Band Hall at the University of Florida was made possible by a generous gift from George Steinbrenner and his wife Joan in 2002. The facility was completed in 2008 and houses the Stephen Stills Band Rehearsal Room in addition to offices, instrument storage, the band library and an instrument issue room.
The University of Florida band was invited and accepted to perform in England for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Members of the 2011 band were made aware of the trip during the fall of 2011. The trip is being funded by donors and by payments from individual members. The Pride of the Sunshine will be abroad for nine days and seven nights with several performances and sight-seeing opportunities throughout the trip. University of Florida was giving the honor for the Pride of The Sunshine to lead all marching bands during the 2012 Summer Olympic in England.
As soon as the field is clear the band marches into the Swamp from the entrance tunnel in a pregame block. They take the field opening to the "Gator Chomp", while the Voice of the Gator Band, Gerre Reynolds, announces their entrance.
Gator Band Entrance
From the fanfare block the band plays the fanfare and takes the fight song ("Orange and Blue") down the field, then forms the block "F." Starting the trio of "Men of Florida" march, they move into their ceremonial set, the outline of the state of Florida. From there they play "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the University of Florida's alma mater.
UF Pregame to this point
Finishing the national anthem, the band plays We Are the Boys March to enter into the Gator spellout preset. Next they play "Gimme a 'G'" while they spell out the word "Gators." Then they play "Orange and Blue" and "Suwannee" to take "Gators" down the field toward the tunnel from which the team enters.
Second half of UF Pregame
In the stands, the band plays a large number of school songs, many of them variations of the Jaws theme. The band plays "Gator Chomp", "Gator Bait", and "Gator Maximus" at various points in the game while the team is on defense, and "Let's Go Gators", "Orange and Blue First Down", and "Go Gators" while the team is on offense, among other various songs. Songs like "You Can Call Me Al" and "Hey! Baby" are crowd favorites. The Dragnet theme song (from the radio and television show of that name) is played to signal a penalty made by the opposing team, followed by chants of "you can't do that"  and hat waving in imitation of a referee's flag, which was originally retired in 2015. The tradition was brought back in 2019, with the band waving yellow flags in the air, imitating the referees' penalty flag.
Perhaps the best known tradition of the Gator Band is the playing of We are the Boys at the conclusion of every third quarter. Beginning with a short intro, the band sets the whole crowd into a swaying motion starting with the first words.
One of the newest traditions was started by Florida head coach Urban Meyer in 2005. After every game where the Gators win he walks over with the team and the team, band, and fans sing the alma mater and the fight song together and the head coach shakes the director's hand. This tradition was continued by Will Muschamp and current Gators head coach Dan Mullen.
Alma Mater and Orange and Blue
The Gator Alumni Band performs during halftime of the homecoming game each year. It consists of a volunteer group of former members of the Pride of the Sunshine. The alumni band is best known for the "Biggest Boom in Dixie", a very large bass drum that is carted onto the field during the show. At some games, mascots Albert and Alberta have played the drum as well.
The Gatorettes are the baton-twirlers of The Pride of the Sunshine, and they perform acrobatics, cartwheels, and flips, and sometimes twirl multiple batons at one time. Their current director is June Stoeber, and under her direction the Gatorettes have won 5 national collegiate titles.
The Gatorettes perform at Florida Gators football halftime shows, and they also compete at national events. In 2002, they won three NBTA national titles. In 2008, they also won two NBTA national titles as well. In 2011, they won a NBTA national title.