Imagine, your college marching band playing the song “The Stripper.” Not hard to imagine in 1967, yesterday in La Crosse. The Stripper was included in the halftime show being planned by the Marching Chiefs of La Crosse State for New Year’s Eve of 1967. Why “The Stripper”? It was part of the band’s salute to songs you might hear while watching sports on TV, such as the CBS theme for NFL football, and The Stripper was used in ads for Noxzema shaving cream, with a blonde model telling shavers to “Take it off, take it all off” (the shaving cream, that is).
The band was ready to play at Lambeau Field, during the Green Bay-Dallas championship game where the winner would go to the Super Bowl. Except, nobody was saying “take it all off” on that Sunday afternoon in Green Bay. That was the legendary Ice Bowl game, when the mercury dropped to 19-below zero. Too cold for the Marching Chiefs to play their instruments outdoors, and some band members had to go to the hospital because of exposure. The halftime show was cancelled, so 100 million TV watchers missed out on seeing La Crosse’s band on CBS. But the Marching Chiefs were present for a historic sports event, and just two years later, New Year’s Day of 1970, they got to play in the Rose Parade in sunny Pasadena. A welcome change from the Frozen Tundra of 1967, yesterday in La Crosse.