By Mary Smith
Six hundred and sixty-five miles.
In December, The McDonald County Marching Band traveled 10 hours and 30 minutes to perform in the 2017 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Along with the Sugar Bowl halftime show, the MCHS Band competed in an individual halftime show contest. From the perspective of a band member, this was the best trip that I have ever been on. There’s something wonderful about being with all of your best friends in a different state, competing and exercising the strongest forms of teamwork, making memories along the way.
The band spent time in the French Quarter, New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood. The French Quarter has several shops, street performers, and artists that visitors can enjoy. In just the first hour of our time there, Arianda Morales jumped in with a New Orleans-style street band for a picture. The whole band gathered around the performers and they continued to play while our chaperones captured the moment. Imagine posing for a picture…but having trumpet players right behind you, making music that is louder than anything. Afterwards, TaShawn Williams took street performance into his own hands and purchased a plastic harmonica to play for fun.
That night, the band continued our tradition of visiting Hard Rock Cafe. Not only did the whole back room of band kids dance to YMCA, some of our drumline created a fun beat with forks and glasses of pop. We even had the option to request songs, which meant that we all heard some Kanye and Panic! at the Disco.
Aside from our fun times in the French Quarter, the band marched through the rain for competition and marched in the Sugar Bowl parade. The parade was incredibly fun. The crowd cheered and danced along to everything we played, including drumline grooves.
We also practiced in mass band rehearsal for the Sugar Bowl halftime. This means that several schools from across America gathered together to play the same song. I met people from Georgia, Ohio, Florida, and even Tennessee. It is always interesting to see the different styles and uniforms of different bands. Multiple band groups also took a trip on the Steamboat Natchez, a dinner cruise with live jazz music and traditional bread pudding. It may have been raining the night of the dinner cruise, but we made a lot of good memories (including being hit by a wave).
Finally, we attended the 2017 Sugar Bowl and ate at the concession stands for dinner. There was a crazy amount of people in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It was an awesome experience to play in front of almost 55,000 people. We didn’t see much of the game, but we definitely got to see a lot of cool things. The night ended quickly, however, because time definitely flies when you are having fun.
When you hear about band trips, you hear about performances. Performing is one of the best parts of being in band–however, the friendship and bonding is just as valuable. There were many nights where we enjoyed card games and laughing in our hotel rooms with our friends. Even sitting at a table and talking with band kids feels like a privilege. I’m forever thankful for my four years in our band, and I will never forget the memories made on this trip.