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Waves of cars rolled into the school parking lot, as parents dropped off their children. The heat was blazing down upon the students as there was much palaver within their group of friends. The merciless sun propelled beams of fireballs. Gradually, salty perspiration trickled. The minute bell went off and everyone dispersed from their groups and scattered towards their classes. I entered the band room and saw the plan for the day written on the board. The left side of it was designated for concert band. Alongside it were important announcements for the marching band. Something about another trip for the holidays. Mrs. Britton, band director of Sandra Day O’ Connor, greeted us as we entered the classroom.
Good morning Leo.
Morning Mrs. Britton.
Please wait outside for a moment. I have something to tell you.
Several other students were told to go outside. Not sure what she was going to tell us, we waited uneasily.
I wonder what this is about.
Hope we’re not in trouble.
Mrs. Britton came out holding a stack of papers in her hand.
The Christmas Festival in Hollywood is coming up on November 28th and I’ve decided to allow you guys to go with the marching band. I will give you until the end of the week to talk it over with your parents and decide whether you plan to go or not.
As the other selected individuals and I entered the classroom, the others crowded around, curious to know why Mrs. Britton had gathered us outside in the hallway. An opportunity like this is not something that is presented to you frequently. A once in a lifetime chance to perform live marching down the red carpet was surely not something to pass.
Chartered buses could be seen far off into the distance, as more arrived to drop off the marchers. Everyone hastily rushed off to search for their equipments. People passed around black square containers to their owners, attached white feather plumes to shakos, and clipped royal blue jackets into place. A chilly breeze snuck into the uniforms. Across the sky sprawled a black blanket with scattered yellow glitters hiding the slowly disappearing orange glow. By now, everyone was grouped with their sections warming their instruments.
In red velvet long sleeves with gray tulle skirts and thick black leggings, the color guards splendidly raising their flags representing Sandra Day O’ Connor High School started to slowly ascend the slanted street. Behind them, the drum majors followed with the saxophones, trumpets, and the rest of the sections. On Hollywood Blvd., magnificent yellow and white spotlights illuminated the sky and jocund, rowdy crowds assembled along the sides of the street waiting to welcome the exceptional marching bands’ performances down the red carpet. On the other side of the street the Nutcracker, Kermit the Frog, and Elmo filled with helium were high up in the air floating, visible from afar.
It’s so cold.
Here, put some chapstick on your lips. You’ll need it.
Guys! Move up!
Great anxiety built up and the stress to perform impeccably mounted onto the marchers’ shoulders as each band became closer to the daunting red carpet. As we stood waiting, the numbness from our fingers spread throughout our hands until our joints became frozen. Cold sweat dripped down the sides of our faces and ears began to sting as if we had frostbite. All of us made a futile attempt of bringing warmth back by desperately rubbing our hands, bouncing around, or huddling together.
The Sandra Day O’ Connor Eagle Pride band consisted of several beginner members. They had not gone through the torturous arm strengthening workout, the complex footwork practice, or the experience of marching. The band began to march forward in unison. Cameras began to flash and bright lights shined upon them. It was too late to back out now. Thumping heartbeats. Pounding pulses. Misty breath out, sharp cold air in.
Now we welcome, Sandra Day O’ Connor High School Eagle Pride Band from Phoenix, Arizona!
Yeah O’ Connor!
An invisible chain of cold air convoluted itself around my neck. It was difficult to observe what was happening alongside the sidewalks. Twenty minutes had passed and the enormous gathering of people decreased to a diminutive amount. Mrs. Britton circled around the band with encouraging words, notifying us that we only had to endure just a little bit longer. Even though the band’s strength was weakened, the enthusiasm never lessened. Mrs. Britton signaled the band to stop playing and informed us that we were finally off the parade route. Exhausted shoulders drooped and arms dangled, fingertips almost brushing against the road.
Rapidly, everyone unclipped their jackets, stuffed their overalls into covers, and unattached the plume from the shakos. We darted to our chartered buses and the warmth inside the bus spread throughout our bodies like the feeling of drinking hot chocolate. The driver closed the doors, preventing any cold air from flowing into the bus. Everyone began to chatter about the day’s events. Behind all the conversation, gales of gusts blew fiercely and trees rustled, swishing in the tempestuous anger of the wind. As the bus drifted off into the seemingly endless night, the discussions abated to a few exhausted whispers as the bus rolled off into the pitch black night.