But on this day, the four Sullivan County school system’s high school marching bands did something that has never occurred, at lease in anyone’s memory.
The four, from Sullivan North, South, Central and East high schools, had just performed together, and it could lead to a joint performance on a national stage and future local joint performances with more than band parents and directors watching.
The Sullivan band of bands’ performance of “Sousa Palooza,” done multiple times over two hours on Central’s football field as temperatures were in the mid-40s, is part of the application due Nov. 28 for the four combined bands to perform as one at the Jan. 20 inaugural parade of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. The joint application was the brainchild of South Band Director Kenneth Carrico, a member of the Dobyns-Bennett High School band who later as a band director took a North Carolina school to the second inaugural parade of George W. Bush in 2005.
Every four years, one college or high school band per state is chosen to perform in the inaugural parade. D-B had the honor in 2013 for President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade, and before that the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band won the nod.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies plans inaugural activities every four years, but it is standard practice for parade participants to be chosen by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, typically formed by the president-elect and his or her political party, following the election.
“We’re from the smallest school from the four, so we never expected to be in this situation,” North drum major Montana Hite said after the cold two hours of practicing and videoing. She said it was great to work with other band members from across the county.
Daisy Clark, South’s drum captain and snare drum player, recalled that South competed with East and Central and was at a competition where North competed.
“It think it’s amazing,” said South drum major Katie Skotty, who along with South drum major Alley Lewis helped lead the more than 280-member combined band that if all were present would number 285. South drum major Britini Hamrick could not attend the practice because of sickness, and directors said a few others missed, too. Also leading the combined band Monday were drum majors Dylan Christian of Central and Michael Trotter-Lawson of East.
“I really hope we get the bid,” Skotty said, a sentiment band parents also expressed. “For this being one of the hardest parades to get into, I think that would be awesome.”
Also wholeheartedly behind the effort are North Director Nick Routh, East Director Spencer Finch and Central Director Chris Smithson.
“It is just a great trip you will never forget,” Carrico told the group of what would happen if the band of bands won the Tennessee slot. “It is just one band per state every four years.”
Finch and Smithson said they don’t remember the four marching bands ever playing together as one, and Smithson said he’s been involved in Sullivan County bands since 1983.
“This is something we need to do on a regular basis,” Smithson said of joint performances.
If the application is successful, which Carrico said should be known in early December, officials said the four bands will start fundraising and making trip plans almost immediately.