If you should be driving past the new Bryan High School from mid-November to mid-December, and you wonder why you are seeing the Bryan High School Marching Band outside practicing in the wonderful Northwestern Ohio early winter weather, there’s a really good reason for it. The BHS Band will be on the road over Christmas break, with a double date in Orlando, Florida.
“The main purpose of the trip is to play at the Russell Athletic Bowl,” said Band Director, Mr. Rich Will. “We will be coming together with 12 to 15 other high school bands from around the country. We’ll be getting our music in a couple weeks or so, and we’ll work on it, learn it and memorize it. We will get together on the day that we arrive and practice for about four hours. The next day we will do a dress rehearsal, and later that afternoon we will perform at halftime at the bowl game. This is one of those earlier bowl games. This is where they also play the Citrus Bowl, so this game had to go earlier. The date of the game is the 28th of December.”
This is not a one-and-done trip to the Sunshine State though. As Mr. Will explained, “The following day we will be at Universal Studios. The kids will enjoy some time at the park, but they will also be doing the Macy’s Parade at 8 o’clock that night. What Macy’s does is they bring down the majority of their stuff from the Thanksgiving Parade, and they have a parade through Universal Studios. They won’t have all the giant balloons that they had in New York, but they will have some there. It’s a pretty big Christmas celebration parade. Obviously Universal Studios will be packed, so there will be a huge audience there as well. Right now they are projecting Florida State to be in the bowl game, so that will also be a sell-out. It’s a really big event.”
In order to accept these invitations, members of the band had to accept the conditions…which includes practicing outside in the worst weather that Mother Nature can dish out to Northwest Ohio in November and December. “It’s a little challenging for us in the north here because we’re not as fortunate or as lucky as those schools from Texas, California or Louisiana that are coming,” said Mr. Will. “They get a little bit better weather then we do, but we’re still going to be outside here working away.”
Another condition is the funding, which is left entirely to the participating schools. “We have a couple fundraisers going on right now,” Mr. Will said. “We have our band discount card. Local merchants – not just in Bryan but in places like Montpelier and Sherwood – are on this discount card. The cards are $10 each and most of my band kids have them. They pay for themselves with 10% discounts at restaurants, and a bunch of other places like Bill’s Locker Room and Wieland’s Auto Care. We also have a fruit sale. Our annual fruit sale is going on right now through November 1st. We’re getting those orders in now so we can have them out for delivery on December 1st, and hopefully between these two fundraisers it can get us where we need to be. The parents will be making up any difference, but I think we’re going to be in good shape. Anyone who wants to order or participate in the fundraiser can contact me here Bryan City Schools. The phone number is 419-636- 4536. Just ask for Rich Will, and I will either get a student salesperson to them or I will take care of them myself.”
Mr. Will and the band members are grateful for the support that they have received so far. “We have gotten a fair amount of support from the community, including organizations like the Kiwanis Club and Newlyn Quest,” Mr. Will said. “We’ve got the money that we received from the Williams County Fair from the band show. We’ve got a lot of community support already as far as monetary donations go, and we are most grateful for them. We are blessed with a very supportive community, and it’s not just Bryan…it’s all of Williams County that is allowing our kids to do something like this.”
Timothy Kays can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org