We Shall Overcome: The Band’s Story of Perseverance


Photo courtesy of Jonny Kilmer

Katie Pierce

For the LFHS Band, August 31 2018 will be forever be known by many names.  The Tragedy of 2018. The Hawaiian Hurricane. Whatever its name may be, August 31 2018 will go down in history as one of the most extraordinary nights in band history. Let’s start from the beginning.

At approximately 5 p.m., the band was seated and ready to warm up for the first game of the season. We had worked hard on our music with a record low number of band members (87 total), and also were about to tackle the impossible task: marching in a formation. Yes, band alumni, a formation.

Granted, this formation was far from anything that college and intense high school bands execute, but it was a formation nonetheless. And it looked good. With the smaller band and careful practice, we were ready to show people that we’re better than one wimpy arc.

At approximately 6 p.m., after running our music and formations multiple times successfully on the field, Jimmy Johns was served to our dedicated entourage. Per usual, percussion ate early and left early to pack the percussion truck.  All band members were fed and ready on the busses by 6:30, and the busses pulled away like normal.

But the truck did not. It didn’t turn on.

Frantically, percussion members unloaded about half of their equipment while senior euphonium player Justin Bower jump started the truck with his car. We were slated to perform NFL on Fox at 7:10 pm. We were still waiting for the truck battery to charge at 6:45.

While the truck itself started, the lift for the equipment would not raise, making it unsafe to drive the truck. With the help of wind players, percussion was able to load sousaphones, snares, sticks, quints, bass drums, cymbals, and other random percussion knicknacks into the back of all of the busses. Things that did not fit went into random members’ cars. We left at 7 p.m.

Upon arriving at West Campus, we discovered that we had missed NFL on Fox and were running late for pregame. Cars rolled in with equipment, wind players dispersed to either side of the field, and the podium was moved and ready.

Despite the chaos, pregame featured every single band member playing with full potential despite having arrived only minutes in time.

After moving a sea of parents out of the seats in the stands (we arrived too late to rope off our section of the stands), we took our place and blew away the crowd. It was the first time in my memory that the student section did our cheers with us (including our weird dances!), and that the cheerleaders danced to Sweet Caroline while we played and the student section sang along.

Every band member and every student in the student section wore a lei in honor of Hawaiian night, the theme of the first game. The first two quarters flew by, and soon enough, it was time for halftime.

As we left the stands, we all felt something wet fall on our arms and heads. Rain. Not a lot, just a few drops. We looked off in the distance and saw lightning getting progressively closer and closer to the field. Nevertheless, the band took to the field and executed not only the formation, but the music impressively and cleanly.

It is fair to say that it was the best we’d looked in a long time.   As we headed back to the stands, the energy was high and the excitement through the roof.

As soon as the third quarter kicked off, we cheered a Scout Clap with Scout Nation. Suddenly, and to our complete horror, the rain returned. And it didn’t stop.

The band’s eyes widened, and as the rain came faster, we mobilized. Woodwinds and brass ran down the stairs not tripping or screaming, but just moving and laughing through the downpour.

The electric bass amp was hustled out of the stands, as was percussion, soaking wet and slow moving due to the weight of their instruments. A sousaphone was left in the stands, but soon retrieved. Mrs. Kessler grabbed everything that she could as fast as she could, and we ran for the buses.

Once on the buses, a roll of paper towels was passed around and valiant band members laughed and shook their heads at what had just happened. Any lost band members were found in the West Campus gym, and in between downpours, the busses took off.

The band left West Campus around 9:30 p.m. Three buses and a few cars carried soaked equipment, soaked instrumentalists, and a crazy story. One of the buses lost windshield wiper capabilities shortly after leaving West Campus, forcing the bus to pull over for a good twenty minutes before continuing on its route.

Upon returning to LFHS, instruments were laid out and dried off, some music was declared ruined, and students changed and attempted to dry off their soaked hair. That last endeavour was, for the most part, unsuccessful.

The remaining and not waterlogged leis were dismantled and made into a long garland that was run around the entire perimeter of the disastrously messy band room. Why? For no reason, really.

We all went home in shock, burdened with exhaustion, but also awestruck at how spectacular of a night it was. We not only put the marching back in marching band, but we dealt with the death of the percussion truck and a hurricane-like rainstorm.

At our first game, mind you. What are our freshmen to think? This will make them even more likely to commit themselves to this organization, this family of sorts.

And that, dear friends, is the legend of the Hawaiian Hurricane. Or the Tragedy of 2018. Or Night of Impossibles. Whatever you want to call it, it happened. And it will forever be remembered in the memories of all 87 band members who lived it.