This is … How a Cancelled Championship Became a Celebration of Perseverance

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Amanda & Drum

So, we drove four hours down to Bakersfield Friday night (November 15) for the Western Bands Association State Marching Band Championships. Our daughter, Amanda, is a member of the Oak Grove High School Marching Band. She plays bass drum in the OG battery, as you can see in the photo to the right.

The air quality had been iffy, but within tolerable levels for several days, so we were hopeful. Saturday morning, we awoke in our hotel to a text from Amanda saying the WBA had canceled the event based on a forecast that the AQI was going to get much worse—above 150. I was bummed to the point that catching sight of Morgan Hill’s Emerald Regime semi parked outside their hotel brought on sniffles.

But wait, there’s more! Thanks to the perseverance of several intrepid band directors, including our host—West High School—an exhibition was quickly assembled and, in the end, five amazing, rebellious high school bands were scheduled to take the field in exhibition. They were King’s Academy, Branham, Valley Christian, Oak Grove, and West.

We assembled at West High School around noon to do show prep, watching the air quality index. The bands ate, warmed up, drilled and got costumed and, by the time the first band took the field a little after 4PM, the AQI had fallen to 83—clearer than it had been in days.

We waived much of the usual exhibition decorum—everyone’s props were assembled in the end zone and there was no time limit on setup or retreat. The kids for once got to watch other bands perform  from the front stands and could spend a few moments at the end of their show pieces, soaking up the applause and adulation. They had a blast.

Below is a photo album of the day from the point of view of one Oak Grove Band Mom. If you hover your mouse pointer over the image, it will display a caption. Enjoy!

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