(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Buses dropped off more than 100 young musicians at Central High School late Wednesday night.
The Central High School Band played the Outback Bowl Coca-Cola Halftime show at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on New Year’s day. By the time students stepped off the bus Wednesday, they had been on the road for 20 hours and before that, they had performed in front of 40,000 people.
Isaac Rivera played the snare drum in Central’s band. He said playing at an NFL stadium in front of thousands of people was a surreal experience.
“It was crazy,” Rivera said. “The crowd went wild for us. It was nerve wracking but it was fantastic.”
Bradley Pirkle, the band’s Drum Major, agreed with Rivera and said it was hard to wrap his head around the attention.
“There was no second that I couldn’t feel at least 8,000 eyes looking at me,” Pirkle said. “But it was great.”
For the participating high school bands, the Outback Bowl Music Festival is four days of performances, competitions, the Outback Bowl Parade through historic Ybor City and a memorable New Year's Eve celebration at Busch Gardens.
CHS students also visited Universal Studios and spent the day at the beach chaperoned by parents and teachers. But it wasn’t just fun and performing at games. The school’s band has been practicing for the Outback Bowl for more than a year.
“It was just a lot of practice and marching in 20 degree weather,” Pirkle said.
Color Guard Captain Kali Justice said her team put in a lot of work for that performance.
"It was repeating the same moves over and over again,” Justice said. “Making sure you have the right angles. The same amount of counts on every move."
The year of practice paid off for the band. CHS took second place in the school’s division for the parade competition. A moment Pirkel said he wasn’t expecting but was ecstatic when officials said they had placed that high.
"I know for sure I was standing up jumping around screaming and I'm pretty sure everyone else was,” he said. “It really was rewarding for all the hard work we put in."
It was an exciting trip for all involved.
Heather Deckard’s son plays in the band and she went to Florida as a chaperon. She said she spent the trip sending back tons of photos and videos for the parents still in St. Joseph. Deckard said it was a proud moment for all the band parents to see their child’s hard work pay off.
"We all loved it, I think as much as they did, watching them get to do that."
Central High School placed third overall in the Outback Bowl Music Festival.