It’s here! The day the band and color guard have waited for.
Breakfast at the hotel was eggs, waffles, hash browns, and cereal and was all well received by the Lancers. Hydration was the point of order, so last night we sent them to their rooms with water bottles galore.
After breakfast and a congratulatory email from Superintendent Nate Greenberg and Principal Jason Parent, and a request from the Hotel Manager that we entertain the guests in the lobby (the lobby is so big it held them all!) the band put their instruments in their cases and loaded them on to the bottom of the bus, climbed on the bus and began their trip into the city.
The “UniFOMs” had last minute sewing to do, and even those who were not typical uniform workers were sewing away…whatever is needed for the troops! The color guard and banner holders were looking so amazing with their new jackets and berets, a wonderful introduction to what is to come. A woman from Massachusetts who had just checked out of the hotel and enjoyed the performance asked if we were all from one school. She was very impressed with the sound, predicting the Lancers would do us proud.
The chaperones had hoped to hoped to have viewing tickets for the parade. Mr. Soucy, Mr. Bealeau and Mr. Veale went into DC yesterday to meet with secret service and get the final instructions for today. He expected to pick up 29 viewer tickets. He only was able to get 20 tickets, meaning 9 people would either have to take their chances or stay behind. The FOM executive board decided to hand them out, rightfully so, by seniority. Some people volunteered to stay behind but Tom Tighe and I decided to take a chance and hope for the best. The FOMs arranged to take the chaperones in on a 30 passenger bus to the metro but the bus company changed our plans and got us into the city. We were left off at 5th Ave and K Street, had to travel down to 7th where a good friend of my family allowed Tom and I to crash his party at his office which has balconies that overlook Pennsylvania Ave.
While the band was going though security, fellow chaperone Tom and I where watching the President and Vice President be ceremoniously sworn in on the TV set in my friend’s office. (He had been legally sworn in on the 20th as is outlined and required by our constitution) While the band was moving to the staging area, we watched as the speeches were being made. The band and color guard were provided box lunches which they would have eaten around 1:30. I’m told by some on our bus the box lunches were not very filling and also not very appetizing. Then it became a waiting game. For those of you at home, you may have seen the lunch speeches, the toasts and the invocation. Those of us waiting for the parade to begin just wanted the President to review his troops and get into his car. Finally he did. Motor cycles, police cars, black SUVs came zipping and then crawling by. A couple of busses went by…but no President! Then the people on the street started screaming and the announcer introduced the President of the United States. Last time, when he walked the route, he got out of the car right in front of where we were viewing. There were sharp shooters lining the building tops and I hoped that meant he’d get out here again, but it was not meant to be. However, he did get out about 30 yards down the street and just out of our eye shot, but Vice President Biden and his wife got out where we were.
There was a long delay between the first and second sections, we believe because the president was walking so slowly while the bands were walking in 1/12 step, considerably faster.
Unfortunately, once the President and Vice-President went by all the people left the building that Tom and I were viewing the parade from. The hosts wanted to close the building, since it was only Tom and me who still wanted to watch, but the Lancers were still about 1/2 hour away. We decided to take our chances with the checkpoint and left to go to street level. The first check point we went to had closed and was for exits only but we asked to be let through any way. They sent us to another place pretty far away. I didn’t want to go that far so as we went by a port-a-let station where there were security guards and a couple of secret service agents, I asked one of them if they could walk us through the check point. I explained our dilemma about the party ending and one took pity, saying if we could still get “wanded” at the check point she would walk us in. Thank you to that officer who listened with an open mind to a couple of parents who just wanted to watch their children in the parade.
By this time the crowds had really thinned and we were able to get up to the front row, standing right next to the barricade. Two other groups of chaperones were spread along the parade route and had different views, and as the Lancers came by us they looked and sounded very impressive. The new red plumes on the drum majors, the warm stylish jackets on the color guard, the rows and rows of red, white and blue as well as the polished music coming from the instruments made the long wait for all of us worth it. Quite a deal. As they past the viewing stand the Vice President was seen to say “It looks like half the town!”.
I know many saw the broadcast, and our videographers also captured the event, as well as many FOM chaperones, both in video and still pictures. There will be links on this web site and also at Lancermusic.org. What was cool about our Lancers was that their set of three songs didn’t take them all completely past the reviewing stands and they had the presence of mind to replay one of their songs, as directed by the drum majors, who had the skill to realize they needed to add to their set. We noticed that if other bands finished their set before getting past the reviewing stand they just continued on with the cadence, not nearly as entertaining as the songs in the set. They also received compliments all day long, from the secret service, the inspectors, and others they came in contact with.
The band and color guard continued up Pennsylvania Ave. while the chaperones made their way around the barricades and up to K Street and from 9th, 11th or 14th Street to 21st Street where the busses were waiting. Lancers changed from their uniforms for dinner on the bus and settled in for the hour drive to Baltimore’s inner harbor and the famous BubbaGump restaurant.
This was the perfect place to take the crew. The waiters and waitresses had worked a long day and were ready for a group like ours who wanted to have some fun. There were Forest Gump trivia contests and a room wide game of “double, double, this, this; double, double, that, that”. The staff had so much energy, as once again they had dinner tickets to collect from each of us and predetermined food to deliver.
In all of the fun some Lancers had to wait a little longer for their food as the wait staff wanted to play the games more than deliver the food, but in the end, everyone was feed and all had a good time. He gift shop was fun to explore with all kinds of BubbaGump paraphernalia, including t-shirts that said “momma says I’m special” and “stupid is and stupid does” and of course, “life is like a box of chocolates”. One of the chaperones decided to buy the movie for the drive back but balked at the $15 price tag. She pointed out to the manager that we’d brought 260 cash rich shoppers into the store.
The manager saw her point and gave us the movie for free.
Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you are going to get…unless you’re with the band…and then you get a good time.