Hello Friends. It has been so busy that I have not been able to find an extended time to make any blog entries at a time when I’ve got internet access. As it so happens, that time will never come, so I’m typing this post at about 1:00 on Monday morning. Please forgive me if there are more than the usual amount of errors or if I am unusually verbose, loquacious, or otherwise longwinded.
Day 1: We loaded at 5:00 and were “wheels up” at 6:00. It was a long day of travel that was made to feel longer by our exceedingly slow progress around Chicago. We stopped for meals twice; once in Madison, WI and once in Indiana, then drove through the night.
Day 2: After a breakfast stop and a lunch stop, we arrived in Boston 3 ½ hours late, tired but excited to begin our New England adventure. Our first stop was the New England Aquarium, a terrific facility with an enormous aquarium holding a tropical reef surrounded by thousands of fish and other creatures of all sizes. Sharks, rays and giant sea turtles were some of the kids’ favorites. There was also a wonderful penguin exhibit.
After checking into the hotel and dropping off luggage, we departed for Bristol, RI to be spectators at the Drum Corps International competition held there annually on July 3rd as part of their Independence Day Celebration. There were 7 groups in competition including 2 of the top groups in the world: The Cadets, and the Blue Devils. Between them, these two Drum and Bugle Corps have won 19 World Titles since 1976. It was inspiring to see and hear what it is possible to accomplish with a relentless commitment to excellence. At the end of the show, “The HERD” was presented with a numbered print of a painting by artist Richard Kaiser, commemorating the 230th annual Bristol, Rhode Island Fourth of July Celebration.
Day 3: Parade Day…We arrived in Bristol at 8:30 and started warming up at 9:30. By 11:10 we were ready to go and were told to get into position in the parade line-up. That’s were we stayed until about 12:00 when we started moving up the ½ mile long chute to the actual parade route. It was about 12:30 when we turned the corner onto the parade route and were met by a sea of screaming fans…yes…fans. These people love, Love, L-O-V-E marching bands. They begged us to play continuously for an hour and forty-five minutes. At times, their screams and cheers were so loud that the band members could not even hear the drum majors’ whistles or the drumline’s cadence. It was exhilarating. Feeding off the energy of the crowd, 10 people deep for 2.7 miles, the band rose to the occasion and absolutely “killed it” time and again. We did 10 performances of “Buffalo Dances”, 15 performances of the BHS School Song “Stand for Our Team”, and the drumline must have played their street cadence at least 20 times. And…the band kept getting better and better as the parade went on. In my 34 years as a marching band instructor, clinician, and judge, I have never witnessed a band continue to “sell” all the way to the end of a parade the way this one does. To say that I am proud of you is a profound understatement. I believe that this was one for the greatest days in the history of “The HERD” and it did not include any judges, scores, or trophies…just a passionate band communicating with a passionate audience.
Congratulations to Alex Rasset, winner of the Golden Dinkle for Best Visual Performance By a Member of “The HERD.” Alex projects the style of the band 100% of the time in every minute of every rehearsal and performance.
After stopping in Providence, RI for dinner, we returned to the hotel and took a couple hours to get cleaned up, relax, and do a little swimming. Then, it was off to Fall River, MA to see the local fireworks. They were amazing to watch over the world’s largest collection of WWII naval vessels including the battleship USS Massachusetts, docked in the Taunton River. It was a sight to see.
Day 4: On a day that we completely rearranged the first half of the schedule, we managed to pack in a wide variety of activities. First up, was a visit to the JFK Library. An hour and 20 minutes was simply not enough time. The students took a lot of time to read, watch films, and discuss the historical information being presented at the museum. They asked lots of great questions, had insightful observations and, generally, would have made their teachers and parents proud of their intellectual curiosity and engagement.
Next stop was shopping and dining at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. This area covers several blocks and includes a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and street vendors. A highlight for the kids was watching the many talented and entertaining street performers.
At 3:00 we boarded the buses and were joined by tour guides that led us throughout the city of Boston and took us to many historical sites including Paul Revere’s house, Boston Common, The Old North Church and The USS Constitution-“Old Ironsides”, which is currently in dry-dock.
The highlight of the day was a three-hour dinner and dance aboard a large boat as we cruised the length and breadth of Boston Harbor. The meal was great, the weather was fantastic, and the band danced for 2 ½ hours on the top deck of the boat. It has even been rumored that the directors showed the kids a thing or two on the dance floor.
Tomorrow looks like a great day as we plan to visit the Plimoth Plantation, The Mayflower II, Plymouth Rock, and Newport, RI.