Montana State University President Waded Cruzado led a spirited group of people down Main Street on Friday to kick-off fall semester.

Cruzado said she came up with the idea for the annual Cat Walk event her first year at MSU almost 10 years ago. She and the athletic director were brainstorming ideas to promote the upcoming football season and thought it might be nice to walk around downtown handing out game schedules.

That idea transformed into a parade-like event that includes the Spirit of the West marching band, cheer squad, athletes and anyone else who wants to join.

“It’s continued to grow every year. The most beautiful thing is seeing the community getting involved,” Cruzado said.

The group started at First Interstate Bank on West Main and traveled a full loop, ending at Wells Fargo Bank across the street. The band played the Bobcat fight song loud and proud throughout the walk. Organizers passed out blue and gold gear to spectators lining the sidewalk.

The crowd visited a number of businesses along the way.

Rocking R Bar was prepared for the visit, and had its blue and gold truck sitting out front. Mike Hope, an owner of the bar, had gold T-shirts waiting for members of the band and young fans.

The event is planned each year as a collaboration between MSU and the Downtown Association. Hope said the Rocking R Bar has been part of the Cat Walk since it started.

“It ties the university and the community together. We’re all one, we’re all Bobcat fans,” Hope said.

That’s true for Kendyl Escobar and her kids, Ridge, 3, and Ava, 1. They came down to be a part of the celebration and support the football team.

“Our little guy is a huge Bobcat fan,” Escobar said.

Midway through the walk, the group took a break at Soroptimist Park off of Rouse Avenue to have a snack, talk with head football coach Jeff Choate and have the opportunity to get autographs from MSU volleyball and football players.

The Bobcat football team will face Texas Tech University for its first game of the year on Aug. 31. The volleyball team’s next game will be against the University of Arkansas-Little Rock on Aug. 30.

Sandy and Art Tysse hung out in the park waiting for the group to arrive. The couple from Sidney moved to Bozeman seven years ago to be closer to their family. They have two daughters and a granddaughter who have graduated from MSU.

“I don’t think we’ve missed a Cat Walk since we moved here. We’re big football fans,” Art said.

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