Sydney Berry, 11, holds the guitar pick and tambourine given to her by Bruce Springsteen. (Photo by Todd Yates)
Very few people are lucky enough to meet a rock 'n' roll icon.
Fewer still can say they have been on stage with one. And then there are those who were born to run with the stars.
Such is the case with Sydney Berry, a fifth-grader at John Adams Elementary School.
Sydney's parents were not much older than she is now when Bruce Springsteen pulled Courtney Cox on stage at the end of his "Dancing in the Dark" video in 1984.
But Chris and Carol Berry's 11-year-old daughter can say she is one up on the former star of "Friends" in one category: She has been on stage with Springsteen twice.
Sydney saw her first Springsteen show when she was only 3. At an age when most children are listening to "The Wheels on the Bus," Sydney was jamming to the Boss.
Chris, a Springsteen fan since he was 16, introduced Carol to his music. So it is only natural that Sydney also became a fan.
Her parents took her to Bristow, Va., to see the rocker on his Seeger Sessions tour. Sydney was hooked.
"She loved that album. She had it on her little Fisher-Price MP3 player and listened to 'Old Dan Tucker' over and over," Carol said.
Sydney has seen Springsteen eight times. But the real fun started in March 2012. Performing in Atlanta, he was walking through the crowd while singing "Waitin' on a Sunny Day." He offered Sydney the microphone. She jumped at the chance to sing with her favorite artist.
After the concert, Chris knew where the band would exit the arena, so they waited patiently in a garage area.
"There were only five of us out there. It was me, Mom and Dad and there was another couple," Sydney said.
They waved as a black SUV drove past. Sydney was just a little disappointed when she couldn't see anyone wave back. But the letdown was short-lived.
"Then we see it turn around and come back to where we were standing, and Patti (Scialfa, Springsteen's wife) got the window rolled down and she said, 'When I figured out who it was, I just wanted to come back.' And Bruce got out and took pictures with us and signed my poster."
The next day, the Berrys drove to Greensboro, N.C., where Springsteen was performing. While en route, Carol was able to obtain tickets beside the stage.
Toward the end of "Dancing in the Dark," Bruce spotted Sydney in the crowd. A security guard lifted her over the rail and carried her to the stage, where she was able to dance with the hall of famer.
Two days, two cities, two concerts — singing and dancing with a legend.
Things were bound to slow down eventually for Sydney, who is also an accomplished tennis player. Last year, she was named the No. 1 player in the state in the 10-and-under category. And in June, she and her doubles partner won the Southern Championships in Memphis.
But it didn't take her long to return to her rock 'n' roll lifestyle.
On April 17, Chris, Carol, Sydney and other family members traveled to Nashville for another Springsteen show. Sydney was sitting on the aisle about 15 rows from the stage when her hero came out into the crowd during "Hungry Heart."
Sure enough, he recognized his dancing buddy and handed her a guitar pick. Sydney was moved to tears.
"He had a runway through the middle of the floor, so he comes off the stage and runs by the stands and gets up on a ramp and plays up there. It was the perfect opportunity," Carol said.
Springsteen returned to the stage for one more song before reaching a portion of the show he calls Stump the Band. He invites members of the audience to bring posters with song titles written on them. He then picks one and challenges the band to play it.
Sydney's poster had the Rolling Stones' logo with one word written on it: "Satisfaction." Springsteen pointed to her and told her to come on stage. She was completely shocked that for the third time in a little more than two years, she was with the Boss in front of thousands of fans.
He handed her a tambourine and let her stand beside guitarist Nils Lofgren. Just like that, she was an honorary member of the E Street Band.
It may have been a little intimidating, but Sydney wasn't blinded by the spotlight.
"I was really nervous because there was so many people," Sydney said. "But there was a monitor so I could read the (parts of the song) I didn't know."
When the song was over, Sydney and Springsteen bowed to each other, and he walked her toward the edge of the stage.
She politely handed the tambourine back and headed for the stairs. He yelled at her, but Sydney couldn't hear over the roar of the crowd. Some people on the front row got her attention and told her to turn around. When she did, Springsteen tossed her the tambourine — as if she needed something to help remind her of her incredible night.
But just in case there is anyone out there who thinks they can pull a fast one on a young Springsteen fan and buy a tambourine used in one of his shows, you can forget it.
"I'm not selling it," Sydney said emphatically.
And the guitar pick?
"That's not happening, either."