Members of the Delaware Hayes High School Grand Pacer Marching Band spent the final week of their winter break travelling to Florida to march and perform at the Outback Bowl.
Band Director Andy Doherty said it’s a tradition to take the band on a trip every four years.
“A lot of people recommended the Outback Bowl as a fun experience for the kids,” he said.
Doherty added students took a 16-hour bus ride down to Florida where they spent a day at Universal Studios, a day at the beach, and spent New Year’s Eve at Busch Gardens. He said the band also marched in a parade in Ybor City, a suburb of Tampa and was awarded third place out of 15 bands.
On New Year’s Day, the band got up early for practice and marched into Raymond James Stadium to perform in the halftime show at the Outback Bowl.
“We did a mass band show (with 14 other bands),” Doherty said. “We all learned the same music and played that together. Then, we did an Armed Forces salute. It was great.”
Doherty said he had “a great time,” and he feels students got a lot out of the trip.
“It was good bonding with the kids and performing all over the county, which is what we love to do,” Doherty said. “I hope they had that joy of performing and spreading music with everyone, even outside the community. I’m glad they got the experience to perform with other students and other bands. We have our ways of doing things here, so it’s good for them to see and hear from others.”
Doherty said the most valuable thing about the trip was the relationships formed between band members.
“It’s good spending time with each other,” he said. “The secret about marching band is that it’s not about band, it’s about people.”
Braeden Weidlich, a sophomore sousaphone player, said the crowd at the parade was his favorite part.
“It was probably the most exciting parade I’ve ever done,” Weidlich said. “The crowds were full, and they gave us a lot of support. They were really excited to see the sousaphones. That was really awesome. It’s been my favorite parade so far.”
Weidlich added meeting other sousaphone players was something he really enjoyed.
“It was really exciting,” he said. “It was really nice getting to meet people from all around the county that play my instrument. It was exciting being down on the field playing with them. It was a really fun time being with all my friends and being able to perform at an event of that size.”
Senior Ve Faulkenberry said she enjoyed the trip and, in particular, enjoyed the parade in Ybor City.
“I liked the parade a lot,” she said. “It was an experience. You do a lot of parades in band but that one was one of the more interesting ones. It was the atmosphere. We’ve never done parades competitively.”
Fellow senior Sarah Clemens agreed, adding she was pleased the band placed third in the parade competition since they didn’t even know they were competing.
“We’ve never really done a parade at that scale before,” said Clemens, adding a lot of the band members were shocked after finding out the band placed third in the parade. “We were surprised. Even when we don’t know we’re competing, we can still get to other people’s level.”
Clemens said she was thankful for Doherty’s direction after seeing other bands at the Outback Bowl performance.
“We got to see so many other bands,” she said. “We saw people talking while playing or slouching. I’m really glad Doherty works us the way that we do.”
The seniors added the trip felt like a fitting send off.
“It felt special,” Faulkenberry said. “Not every senior gets this kind of deal. Being able to put that uniform on one more time was pretty cool. We got to know our band director on a personal level, while keeping it professional.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.