Dandy performance [UPDATED]Published 11:50am Tuesday, January 22, 2013 Updated 11:50am Tuesday, January 22, 2013
As the Fergus Falls High School Marching Band rounded the corner of 15th Street onto Pennsylvania Avenue Monday afternoon, each student experienced the once-in-a-lifetime honor of performing in front of President Obama and the First Family in the Inaugural Parade.
The parade, a time-honored American tradition of celebrating the swearing in of the nation’s President, served as the capstone of the band’s cross country trek to Washington, DC.
Propelled by its unique style of marching, playing and singing, the band proudly represented the State of Minnesota and the city of Fergus Falls for the second consecutive presidential inauguration.
“Our motto, and we try to incorporate this into everything we do, is ‘Share the Pride’”, said band director Scott Kummrow. “Whether it’s school or patriotism or whatever, we always try to reflect that.”
Throughout the week-long excursion, the band had the opportunity to showcase this pride while following in the footsteps of their predecessors from 2009 and by representing their school on the national stage.
While this year’s band roster contains no holdovers from the 2009 group that performed for Obama’s first inauguration, the students seem to understand the legacy that they are helping to create.
“I think it’s awesome that a band from the small town of Fergus is out here twice in a row to represent Minnesota,” said Emma Clark, a sophomore trumpet player in the band.
After enduring the 25-hour bus ride, students were in high spirits throughout the weekend as they had the chance to do some sightseeing, perform at a charity event and even mingle with their elected officials.
On Friday and Saturday, students had the opportunity to check out the Smithsonian museums and experience Washington’s world-famous landmarks, including the White House, Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial.
“It’s been great seeing all of the historical stuff and all the memorials,” said Karly Davenport, also a sophomore trumpet. “The city has a great atmosphere and the trip has just been super fun.”
On Saturday morning, the band played for a National Day of Service charity event at the Washington D.C. armory, where Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance and heard the group’s performance.
On Sunday morning, the group headed over to the Hart Senate Office Building, where they were able to pay a visit and play a song for Minnesota senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Representative Collin Peterson.
Senator Franken, drawing upon his comedic and satirical background, delivered some inspirational words of encouragement to the young Otters: “Don’t blow it.”
But beyond the thrills of experiencing the nation’s capital and the inaugural parade lie life lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom.
“The greatest takeaway for the kids is that they’re learning what being part of a community is all about,” said Kummrow, attesting to the widespread support the band has received from Fergus Falls area residents.
“Seeing the President is cool, but community is really the key — and the students have learned to appreciate how great the Fergus community really is.”
MaCorra Hanneman, a freshman, agrees with that sentiment.
“It’s great that the community as supported us so much, especially since this is such a once in a lifetime experience for us.”
In all, Kummrow estimates that fundraising efforts for the trip raised at least $90,000. This amount figures to well cover all travel associated costs, and any remaining funds will be put towards purchasing new uniforms.
When asked about the main differences between this year’s trip and that of 2009, Kummrow explained that he was able to use the lessons learned from 2009 to plan more accordingly.
“We were able to establish a to-do list from day one — which was crucial considering we had three less weeks to prepare this time,” he said. “We also came better prepared for the cold this year.”
Thankfully, the weather has been significantly warmer this time around, with temperatures registering in the low 40s Monday afternoon — a stark difference from 2009 when temperatures dipped into the mid-teens.
“We had kids getting frostbite in ’09,” Kummrow added. “It was pretty rough, so we’re quite pleased with the warm weather so far.”
After the parade, the band hopped back on the bus and headed back to their hotel in California, MD, about 60 miles southeast of the District of Columbia.
From the hotel, they departed on their day-long journey back to Fergus with hopes of arriving around 7 p.m. Tuesday evening — just in time for the Otter Girls Basketball game versus Hawley.