Tulsa Union Trip Review

The Fort Zumwalt South Marching Bulldogs had a performance in Tulsa, Oklohamo on Saturday, October 13, 2012.  The competition took place at the Tulsa Union High School.  It was a great location with decent weather for the most part.  The band didn’t make finals, but they did get some good information from a pre-competition clinic where a few experts gave some tips and tricks to help them out.

Thursday…

A bunch of parents were hanging out at the school Thursday evening helping to get the food packed and the truck and trailer loaded.  We couldn’t load all the instruments or color guard gear because the band was performing in a pep rally Friday morning.  Only one hiccup at the end of the evening when we had to wait for the crowd from the soccer game to dissipate so we could park the truck and trailer for the next day’s journey.

Friday…

Friday morning started bright and early as we arrived at the school some time before any rooster ever thought of waking.  The band was supposed to perform a quick diddy at a pep rally and be on the road by 7 a.m.  That didn’t quite go as planned.  To the best of my knowledge the band never played and we got on the road about an hour late.  Otherwise, the morning went without a hitch.  In all there were three school buses toting students, the marching band box trailer, a Budget rental truck and several parents heading out on the road together.

As for us and a few other parents we opted to not cruise at the low speeds of the buses and instead chose to risk the radar at slightly higher speeds and meet them for lunch in Springfield.  We met for lunch at the Battlefield Mall in Springfield and after a very brief respite from the rigors of the road I crammed back into the capsule of a car my wife calls transportation and we head out towards Tulsa.

It was late afternoon to early evening when we arrived in Tulsa.  I was surprised to find what I thought was the high school right next door.  After checking with the all powerful Google I realized the massive structure next to our hotel was only the middle school.  Once we were checked into our hotel a short drive of less than a mile brought me to the Tulsa Union High School which had a football stadium to rival a lot of college stadiums.  I was excited for the kids to get to play in such a cool place.  I helped unload the instruments and color guard gear for the clinic Mr. Tucker had arranged.

The clinic was great.  I don’t know if the kids learned anything, but I will never look at a marching band performance the same again.  I am amazed at how much the judges can see and make note on in the fraction of time the band is marching.

After loading the instruments and color guard gear back onto the truck Tabitha, her mom and I met up with some of the parents at a bar/restaurant called The Fox and Hound.  We had some good grub and watched what started out as a most disappointing Cardinals game.  If you caught the game you know it did not end disappointingly for Cardinals fans.  Go CARDS!

Saturday…

Saturday started out with breakfast at the hotel and then on to the high school.  Tabitha and I were the first to arrive.  Once the caravan arrived it was the usual competition grind of unhooking the gator trailer, unloading the truck and then reloading uniform racks and empty instrument cases.  Oh and don’t forget the mutes!

The band arrived at the school a few hours early so everyone was on pins and needles as to whether or not the sky was going to open up on us.  In case you were wondering…it did not.  At least not for our performance.  It was, however, extremely windy so we opted for only one tarp and four trees instead of usual four tarps and six trees.  And, because of all the wind we tossed down six weights that I am pretty sure are made of lead and weigh in at approximately 1,000 pounds.  Let me just say I am really out of shape and jogging onto the field dragging a cart full of those weights is not my idea of good entertainment.

The performance, in my humbly not so educated eye, was fantastic.  I love watching the kids do their thing.  It always amazes me how organized and talented they are when the timer starts.

Per Mr. Tucker’s request we loaded the truck up to be ready to leave.  I think it had more to do with the impending rain than a fear of not making finals.  Speaking of finals, we did not make finals.  I was a little disappointed.  Not at the kids, because I thought they did great.  I just didn’t think the other bands were as good as us.  I know we get hit for some things out of our control.  For instance, pit isn’t loud enough.  It’s not their fault.  After hearing Mr. Tucker explain the dynamics it really comes down to we don’t have the tech to push the sound to the judges.  Add on to that fact the stadium we were in had a small concrete wall that played a huge part in bouncing our sound away from the judges.

On that note, I would like to put a shout out to Andre Peoples.  When Mr. Tucker was explaining to us some of the judges notes about our sound equipment Andre offered some upgrades he had laying around in his garage.  And, just let me say as one of the guys that helped him carry it from his car to the band room, if it puts out sound like it weighs we will be blowing the socks off the judges.  Wow were those speakers heavy.

We did not make finals.  I guess it was all for the best since they were cancelled anyhow due to the rain.  We left shortly after the prelim awards and headed to the local mall to setup the kids for their dinner.

Saturday Night…

Almost a couple dozen of us parents ended up going out to dinner at KC Smokehouse.  Yum! Yum!  Tabitha and I shared some ribs that were just amazing.  The waiter was even nice enough to drop a bowl of dressing on the floor and splash it all over the back of my leg.  I thought that was awesome of him!  It’s a lot of hard work loading/unloading the truck, keeping the kids organized, straightening up their uniforms and hair, etc.  There are countless number of things the band parents do that keep the band working like a well oiled machine.  For me it is so much fun to work with the parents helping out all the kids and seeing them perform.  Dinner was just another example of one of the fun things we get to do together that normally just wouldn’t happen.

On top of a great dinner a few of us went out to the KOA campground on the reservation.  It did happen to have a casino on it.  After some questionable navigation it ended up being a honky tonk with some slot machines.  It was pretty cool.  There was some band up on stage playing country music and more people wearing cowboy hats than not.  Afterwards, we decided to take a gander at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino Resort.  It was pretty cool, but I have to say even though the Will Rogers Casino wasn’t as glamorous or as well stocked with gambling apparatus it beat the hard rock hands down in character.

Sunday…

We got a late start on Sunday.  We thought we left an hour after the band.  Come to find out they left about 30 minutes late due to four of the students still being in bed when they did a body count on the buses.  I had two near misses with the highway patrol one of which I thought he was coming after me when he changes lanes and passes me to pull over the van in front of me.  I hate to celebrate someone else’s misfortune, but I sure am glad it was him and not me!

The caravan ended up stopping for a bathroom break and we passed them not even knowing it.  We ended up meeting up with them in Lebanon to eat lunch.  All seemed to be going well until it was time to leave.  The lead bus was trying to navigate the parking lot when it collided with a steel post leaning towards the road.  It tore up a headlight and the panel containing the wiper motor.  The bus driver seemed to be taking it all in stride considering everything she will be put through for having an accident with kids on the bus.

It was about an hour delay due to the fact we had to wait for the police to arrive and fill out a police report.  The officer seemed friendly enough and didn’t delay us longer than necessary.

All in all I would say it was a great trip.  I think it’s safe to say everyone had a good time and was ready for bed by they time everything was unloaded.

Next week we are headed to Park Hills.  I will be riding in the truck with Bob for the first time to get the feel for the old girl (the truck…not Bob) as I will be taking over the reigns for Bob next year since he is “retiring.”

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