The Washington High School (WHS) Marching Band had the trip of a lifetime last weekend representing Ohio and the county to Washington D.C. to take part in the 2015 Independence Day parade.
Matt Stanley, WHS band director, recently commented on the trip and about how pleased he was with it. Beginning last Thursday morning, the band members met at the high school to get their bags checked and board the bus. By 4 a.m. the nearly 150-member band was on its way to the nation’s capital. Arriving at about 1 p.m., Stanley said, the band was immediately busy with a number of interesting attractions planned for the evening.
“We began by checking out a few of the monuments around D.C., even stopping for a photo at the White House,” Stanley said. “We got ourselves checked into a hotel and had dinner before we ventured back out into D.C. We visited the Vietnam, Korean and Lincoln memorials. The weather never rained on us, just as we ate or sat on the bus, but we had great weather while seeing the sights.”
On Friday the band took a tour of the Capitol Building, which was under construction. The band learned about the amazing history of the decor in the building and got to see a very important piece of the government. The band then traveled to Arlington National Cemetery where four members took part in a wreath setting on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After the “extensive” tour, one student commented that they had walked eight miles in that day alone.
“The entire tour was very neat and the kids had a good time there,” Stanley said. “We turned in early on Friday and got up to prepare for the parade on Saturday. After visiting with a former student, Andy Sheridan, who was performing during the festivities, we made our way to the practice spot. We waited for the rain to die down, then we began playing and getting pumped for the parade.”
While practicing, Stanley said the band began to gather a crowd who cheered and clapped for them as the members performed several of the pieces that would be familiar to those back at home. Finally, the parade began with each member fully dressed. The heat got to several members as they neared the end and they relaxed the last bit fearing dehydration. After the band was rejoined and accounted for, the group traveled back to the hotel.
“The kids did a really great job and the crowd enjoyed them,” Stanley said. “They continued to cheer them on, which is one reason I think the kids did so well. We even had Miss Teen Ohio stand and wave her sash at us, happy to see a fellow Ohioan. After being that hot, some kids wanted to relax, but we still had a lot on our schedule. So we all got cleaned up and drove back to D.C. to watch the fireworks.”
Sunday was another day full of adventure. The band started with a drive-by tour of Ford’s Theatre and then traveled to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. After returning to D.C., the group toured the Smithsonian and several members were able to tour the National Archives, seeing some amazing pieces of the nation’s history.
“Almost everything there is to see and do in D.C. we did, thanks to the excellent planning of the travel company in charge,” Stanley said. “Overall, between the great attitude of the kids and parents, to the tour guides and hotel, this was all-around an amazing trip. It was one of the most ideal trips for these students to take.”
“We did all sorts of great stuff and toured some awesome memorials, I really had a blast,” Brendon Baughn, a junior in the band, said. “I enjoyed looking at the scenery, it was all really nice. It feels fantastic and it still gives me jitters thinking about how I was a part of the parade.”
“I had a great time and, despite it being hot, the parade was really fun,” Alex Matthews-Tobin, a recent graduate of WHS, said. “I got to see the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, we toured all sorts of monuments and memorials and it was a great time. This is the last time I will be marching in the band as a member. I had a lot of fun and it is hard to leave it after being a part of it for so long.”