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Turning Left

Not right.


Every time.

“Turning left!” A phrase called on the buses as the Spirit of Woodlan marching band heads off to each and every competition. The syllables sing-song as the great yellow beast takes the turn onto Webster road. Words of excitement, of hope.

I smile every time.

For another moment to shine approaches. Another time to show their skills. “Turning left”…the cry of the beginning of the journey.

A tradition. One repeated last Saturday as the Spirit of Woodlan headed to Dekalb. With one win under their belt, the competition season is just getting started.

From rain and cold to heat and sun, the musicians (many sporting sunburns from practice that day) climbed out of the buses for pre-competition fun.

A rousing game of ninja happened. Jumping. Dodging. Falling spectacularly.

Others headed for shade and the company of friends.

Soon enough it was time to get ready. Hair was braided. (Danny looked magnificent in two french braids) Band members headed for the carts to find their uniforms waiting. Hats sat on sweat-covered brows. Gauntlets closed over wrists. Jackets added un-needed warmth.

Flags stood all in a row, waiting to flutter.

Too hot. Too bright. But the talented crew was ready to march.

As they gathered together, mirrors sent blinding spots dancing in others’ eyes. Maybe an accident. Possibly on purpose.

Off they went, to warm-up, to prepare.

Blinking into the sun, wiping sweat from their faces, the audience took their seats. We will brave any weather to cheer for our band.

As the band took the field, the sun bowed behind the trees in respect. For Woodlan brings magic.

They set up the clocks like pros.

Took their places.

Drum Major…is your band ready?

The tick-tock, tick-tock counted them off.

Parts one and two unfolded on the field. A wonder of sound and shapes, of waving flags and dancing color guard (AKA Kathy’s faeries, go with it, it’s a thing now).

The spectators whooped and hollered with each hit, with each solo, and thunderous applause followed the band from the field.

Then we waited to learn the results, waited as the last four bands performed. As the colors of sunset faded to dark. As the stadium lights glowed bright.

In a line, the drum majors stood. The voice over the loud speakers announced the winners. Open class D…

Best visuals…


Best music…


Best general effect…


First place…Woodlan!

A nice line of shiny trophies gathered on the track. Golden sculptures, a reward for hours of work. Glittering awards to propel the Spirit of Woodlan onto the next competition.

To the next “turning left”.

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