On Thursday, Nov. 2 the “Baddest Band in the Land,” the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band (PotM) packed up all 480-some marching members, along with staff, into nine charter buses and left at 9 a.m. from campus, bound first for Columbia, South Carolina and then for Charleston.
As we traveled, a PotM tradition began: bus interviews. These are interviews for students that can contain many outrageous questions. Hilarity ensued.
We ate lunch at the Columbiana Centre Mall in Columbia at 12:30 p.m. By 2 p.m. we were on our way to the USS Yorktown in Charleston following a brief stop to drop off our belongings in the hotel.
The USS Yorktown is a huge aircraft carrier that was active in both World War II and Vietnam. After a nice barbecue dinner, I thoroughly enjoyed traversing the massive craft, though many sections were blocked off.
The next day was our free day. I wandered downtown Charleston with a group of friends. We meandered through the marketplace, then down to Waterfront Park, swung by Rainbow Row, walked past some old houses that were shot by cannon balls in the French Quarter and then ate lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co. Unfortunately, I can’t eat fish, so I was stuck with a chicken sandwich, which was good, but it was still a wonderful time with friends.
That Friday night, the band had an exhibition at Summerville High School, about 30 minutes north of Charleston. After a fine dinner, we began our warm-up for performance. At about 8:45 p.m., the band hit the field, performing “Take Note!” for the audience members present. It was a bit harder to march on a grass field than I remember, but it was still fun, and we finished the show amid raucous applause and cheers.
Saturday, the last day of our trip, began with breakfast then packing the buses to depart for Columbia once more. We had considerably less time in the Columbiana Centre Mall for lunch, but after a quick Dairy Queen run, I joined the others on the bus bound for Irmo High School, and our exhibition site for the South Carolina 5A State Marching Band Competition. We had two performances. Both were very successful, and it was almost unreal that our band members were seen almost as idols to all these high school music kids. Every single one was ecstatic, and we could barely get off the field as they crowded us.
But, as soon as the high was over, we loaded up the buses once more to head back to Cullowhee. As luck would have it, our trip took place over the weekend that Daylight Savings Time ended, so we arrived on campus at about 1:30 a.m., instead of 2:30 a.m., and trust me, we were all relishing that extra bit of sleep.
This trip served as another reminder of why I love marching band, which I’ve been doing since high school. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to do something for others that I, and they, enjoy, and it also allows me to go to places I have never been but are so fascinating, and to top it all off, I get to do it with a bunch of great friends.