Local high school bands preparing for college bowl trips
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Dec 09, 2013 | 4350 views |  0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lamont Hutto plays his French horn during a practice session of the Anniston High School marching band Monday.    Photo by Bill Wilson.
Lamont Hutto plays his French horn during a practice session of the Anniston High School marching band Monday. Photo by Bill Wilson.
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While college football teams only learned of their bowl trips last weekend, two area high school bands had their tickets punched months ago.

The Anniston High School Marching Bulldogs and the Woodland High School Marching Bobcats in Randolph County will both perform at separate bowl game celebrations in January and December. Woodland was invited in February to perform for the Outback Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on New Year's Day. Meanwhile, Anniston's band was invited in August to perform in the Florida Citrus Bowl Parade Dec. 30 in Tampa, Fla.

"We were very excited when we found out," said Aunbralesha Wordlow, 17-year-old clarinet section leader for Anniston's band. "Some of us have never been to Florida before, so this will be a new experience."

Rueben Mitchell, band director for Anniston High, said this will be the first time his band of 62 students will attend such an event in his 11 years working at the school.

"They're all extremely excited," Mitchell said.

Mitchell noted that his band will actually perform in two parades in Florida. In addition to the Citrus Bowl Parade, the band will perform in a parade at Universal Studios. But the Citrus Bowl Parade is the main event.

According to its website, the annual Citrus Bowl Parade is held between the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Capital One Bowl games, and it’s broadcast to more than 75 percent of the television markets in the United States. There are typically around 3,000 participants in the event, including high school bands and participating college bowl marching bands.

To pay for the trip, the Anniston band has so far raised more than $13,000 through efforts like calendar sales.

"And we're still in the process of raising funds," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said his band will perform three songs for both parades, including “All I Do” by Stevie Wonder, “Fine China” by Chris Brown and “Million Dollar Bill” by Whitney Houston.

"The tempo for those songs are good marching tempos, and the kids enjoy playing those," Mitchell said. "Ever since we got through marching band season, we've been working on these tunes to make us sound good and look good for television."

Dilmos Hamilton, band director for Woodland, said the Outback Bowl trip is a major opportunity for a program that was nearly defunct just two years ago. Hamilton said the band had dwindled to 22 students when he was hired in 2011 but has since grown to 72 performers.

"They almost closed the program," Hamilton said.

Instead, the band will perform in a parade on New Year's Day before the bowl game and then again with about 14 other high schools during halftime in front of around 65,000 people. The band will also get to spend a day at nearby Disney World.

Due to the big nature of the event for the 2A school, the community has fully supported the band, helping it raise $101,000 this year for the trip.

"There has been so much help since this is a once-in-a-lifetime event," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said his band will perform songs from the film “Grease” and a compilation of music from the U.S. armed forces.

Lane Mitchell, 16, and drumline captain for the Bobcats, said he and his fellow classmates were surprised to learn they were invited to the event.

"I thought it was cool," he said. "I've never been to anything like that before."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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