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  • Writer's pictureKathy

Help Wanted: Pit Crew

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Everyone has skills. Everyone has talents. Everyone has a desire to make their children happy. (I mean, mostly. Right?)

Anywho, if happiness comes in the form of the marching band, then we must all pitch in to make every season great.

This is part of a series giving details on how the parents, guardians, family, and friends of the marvelous marchers of the Spirit of Woodlan can support the band.

When the registration form arrives at the beginning of the season, and you stare at the "Band Booster Committee" page, there could be some serious WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO thoughts. But have no fear. We're all in this together.

And we have a pretty darn good time.

Let's talk pit crew.

All those props out on the field? The stages. The crane. The trees. The pyramids. The screens. The clocks. All the things that add to the show's visual interest have to get out onto the field. Bring in the pit crew. They pull. They haul. They push. They set the props in the correct positions. And run away. WATCH THEIR LIGHTNING SPEED

I know you've seen them. And since what's needed on the field grows each year, the pit crew needs help. If you are at all capable of jogging, pulling, pushing, lifting, and/or can find the 20 yard line and a few hashmarks on the football field. This job might be for you.

Before competitions begin, Mr. Slattery will decide what props he wants and where they will go on the field. Then props are made...constructed, painted, and whatevered as our director instructs. He's the boss.

The pit crew will come in to learn what props there are and where they will be on the field. We might even practice...might. There is a crew leader, who will know where everything goes and try to organize the crew, asking what everyone is comfortable doing and placing people on tasks. From front screens, to stages, to possibly setting sand bags if needed, to helping the pit bring out instruments or speakers, to rolling out and setting up the stand for the drum major, AND WHO KNOWS WHAT ELSE...pit crew is quite the job.

When props are made, they will be stored on the truck used to get all the equipment to competitions. Upon arrival, pit crew helps get everything off the truck, then waits to bring the props to the field. Depending on time, sometimes pit can see one or two other bands perform and sometimes not. But the props need to be ready to go when Woodlan's performance time comes. The props follow the band onto the field, waiting behind the musicians lined up in the end zone. There are rules. No one on the field before we are given the okay.

We wait. Ready to go! And yes, there's always the last minute..."Now what line are we heading for?" "Who goes out first?" What way do we run off the field?" "DOES EVERYONE KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING?" Even with the last minute panic, everything gets done. And no matter how many times you do it...there's a bit of nerves. Pit crew isn't perfect. There are questions every competition day. People who can't be there and replacements to be found. BUT BY GOLLY...there is laughter and spirit. BY GOLLY!

When the okay is given, usually someone waves a bright flag, we have a set time to get the props on the field, to perform, then get the props off the field. It used to be a separate time limit on setting up, then getting everything off, but last year we had a chunk of time for the entire performance, including set up and take down. When you're on the field, the adrenaline hits and you RUSH RUSH RUSH, but in reality, there is plenty of time.


Once the props are set, pit crew leaves the field and enjoys a track-side view of the performance. Not the best place to see all the formations and movements, but I always enjoyed being right there. As soon as the band finishes, pit crew jogs in to take everything down and haul it off the field. That part always goes faster.

Then we push, pull, and haul the props back to the truck to be put away. Job done, pit crew is free to go watch the rest of the performances and wait for awards. And don't worry, you won't have to pay to get in. Perk.

I have been on the pit crew three out of my daughter's four years in marching band. The one I didn't help with was The Witching Hour, because the band members hauled the clocks out and I wasn't needed. But I missed it.

Being a part of the pit crew means that you don't see the other bands perform. You don't have a bleacher-eye view of the performance, but you are right there supporting the band and cheering just as loud.

It me! Helping to pull a tree for the Pyramids of Egypt show in 2016...ON THE FIELD AT LUCAS OIL STADIUM! Not everyone gets a chance to do that.

Pit crew rocks! So be a Prop Star! I look forward to helping this one last year.

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