ORLANDO, Fla. - Fans packed the Citrus Bowl for the Florida Classic game Saturday afternoon, where FAMU's Marching 100 band performed in its first Classic game since the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
FAMU was defeated by Bethune-Cookman University in the annual football game that kicked off at 2 p.m. Saturday.
This was the first Florida Classic performance for the Marching 100 band since Champion's death in late 2011. The band was suspended for nearly two years after the hazing death.
"There's a lot of tragic things in the world and in life to individuals. But we learn from those mistakes and we move forward," FAMU Band Director Sylvester Young said.
The Classic is big business for the city of Orlando and pumps more than $30 million into the local economy. But that number dropped dramatically in 2012 because the band wasn't allowed to perform at halftime.
"I'm telling you, my worst year of business was last year without that band," vendor Reggie Chennault said.
Vendors who depend on the game to draw a large crowd of fans and customers said they're relieved the band is once again part of the festivities. Attendance at last year's game was the lowest since the Classic moved to Orlando in the '90s.
"I took a hit last year, a lot of vendors took a hit last year. As a matter of fact, some vendors took a hit where they couldn't come back this year," Chennault said.
But on Saturday vendors were pleased to see huge crowds headed to the game. Citrus Bowl officials said roughly 45,000 people attended the game.