Halftime during the big bowl games is often a chance for football fans to grab some extra snacks or take a much-needed bathroom break, but not for all.
For members of Harlem High School’s marching band, halftime at the Allstate Sugar Bowl was the highlight of the game.
The band was among 16 high school bands providing part of the halftime entertainment Thursday, said band director Stacey Wade, who traveled to New Orleans with 45 students for the big game.
The high school group performed a medley of Beatles tunes after the Oklahoma and Alabama bands left the field at the Superdome.
“There are roughly 1,200 musicians and about another 1,000 dancers, flag twirlers, color guards, majorettes and that sort of thing,” he said “It is really a spectacle.”
He said the group, which includes some Harlem Middle School students had two practices – one “marathon” session Wednesday and another at the Superdome Thursday morning. Stacey said he was being assisted by Harlem Middle band director Alda Wilmoth and nine other adult chaperons.
“We probably have another dozen (parents) that made it down here on their own,” he said.
One of those parents was Tim Farr, whose daughters, Gabby, a senior who serves as Harlem’s drum major, and Maddy, a sophomore, made the trip.
On Thursday night, Gabby played clarinet, and Maddy marched with a mellophone, Farr said.
“It’s sort of like a trumpet,” he said.
Farr said the group kept a busy schedule this week, seeing historical sights and tourist attractions between practices. The adults were doing their best to keep up, he said.
“We are walking back to hotel right now to make a hundred ham and turkey sandwiches, so they can eat, and then we are going to the aquarium,” Farr said Thursday morning.
Stacey said the band made the decision to take the Sugar Bowl trip in November 2012 and began raising money immediately.
“We raised in excess of $50,000,” he said. “That’s lots of corner donations drives in Harlem.
The group took chartered buses down to New Orleans early Monday and have been working on a jam-packed itinerary since. They’ve attended a jazz concert at Preservation Hall in the Fifth Quarter, enjoyed a paddleboat dinner cruise on the Mississippi and visited the National World War II museum, Stacey said.
“I am exhausted and the tiring part hasn’t even happened yet,” he said Thursday afternoon, while at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
“They’ve had a good time,” he said of the students. “They’ve had some experiences that they are going to take back and remember forever.”