Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Homecoming and a Pep Band

From the time I opened my eyes Friday morning until I walked towards the football field that evening, it was a normal Friday.

But once I left my humble abode the atmosphere changed. Something felt different. More than the heavier-than-normal stream of traffic headed towards BHS, more than the normal aura of a football Friday, even more than the exhilaration of walking. Yes, something felt different.

Then the sensory inlets that lead into each side of my head caused me to pay attention to the energetic sounds of rhythm from the drums, brass, and woodwind sections of Bayard’s Pep Band. (If I missed a section or used the wrong terminology I apologize, but those three designations exhaust my musical competence.)

Nevertheless, those sounds proclaimed to a sleepy Bayard-berg that it’s time to wake up, take notice, and come fill the bleachers with Tiger-support.

Walking into the stadium and past the impressive Donors Row and elevated section for wheelchairs, I encountered the couple three steps up to the bleachers. I stopped, watched, and listened.

I saw a sea of bobble-heads. Pep Band member’s bobbled to the cadence their instruments produced. Seated fans bobbled as they talked to those sitting around them. Heads bobbled from those surveying the bleachers looking for a seat, or from those who bobbled towards the concession stand.

My head bobbling, I looked for a place to sit.

Nevertheless, the Pep Band continued to charge the arena with musical Tiger-energy.

Then silence. The sea of bobbling in the grandstand ceased, and, in unison, turned and faced the football field. The candidates for Homecoming King and Queen, and their parents, were introduced.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, to the cheers of an enthusiastic wave of bobble-headed Tiger fans, Bayard’s football team charged onto the field.

You ready for some football?

During the game, the Pep-Band continued to buoy emotions with their repertoire of action sounds, and the drums beat out pulses of enthusiasm. With their attention rooted into the action on the field, for most fans, the sounds from the Pep Band melded into the climate of the game.

That’s a professional Pep Band. Unless they weren’t there, most fans don’t realize they’re there. It’s supposed to be that way. The reverse of old proverb: A Pep Band should be heard but not seen.  

Shortly before the end of the first half, basically unnoticed, a procession of drums passed in front of the grandstand and set up behind Bayard’s team bench. The drummers waited for the horn to signal the end of the first half; then they began a steady outlay of rich and dramatic drum tones.

The even rat-a-tat-tats brought a sense of saneness that counteracted the furor in the bleachers. If possible, it un-bobbled the bobble-heads before springs were sprung.

I shoved money in someone’s hand to get me some popcorn; that way I could stay sat and bobble to the drum beats.

Also, as part of Homecoming night proceedings, well deserved and prestigious academic awards were given to a group of deserving students.

As the football teams filed back onto the field, as silently as they set up, the drum ensemble dissipated and melded into an atmosphere of post-performance glow.

The third and fourth quarters of the football game played out, however, after the game attention remained focused on the field. The Homecoming King and Queen nominees were front and center.
Femininity mingled with blood, sweat, grime, and greasy hair. Tension mounted as the proverbial envelope opened and announced the winners.  

The procession left the field and, after showering and a change from warrior into civilian clothes, boy meets girl. Plans were finalized for Saturday’s Homecoming events.

In the meantime the Pep Band packed their instruments and, along with the variety of drums, they’re secured inside a locked school house until later. It’s kinda like a closed, dark, museum. Nobody knows what goes on when the lights are out.  

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