Cotton Bowl, here we come
The Tonganoxie marching band is heading south at the end of the year, as one of 20 bands in the nation invited to the Cotton Bowl.
The 90 to 100 students in band next December will head to Dallas, where they will march in a nationally televised parade on Dec. 31, perform in a field show and at the football game on Jan. 1.
"We have to compete with the top 20 bands in the nation now," said band director Charles Van Middlesworth. "It's going to be quite exciting and exhilarating."
Actually, Van Middlesworth believes his band is somewhat ahead of schedule. He originally planned for the band to accompany the choir to the Calvacade Music Festival in May 2001 in Colorado Springs.
"I thought we'd get some tri-state recognition," he said. "In the beginning, the whole goal for me was, wouldn't this be great to take this band to a bowl game. I think it's great we already have been asked."
But he didn't think it would come this soon. It's highly likely the band students will be well-prepared, though, under Van Middlesworth's tutelage.
Last fall, the band won an outstanding band ribbon at the American Royal and a first division rating in the Neewollah parade competition.
Van Middlesworth believes that's what attracted the attention of Cotton Bowl organizers.
"The program's taken off, and a lot of people are very excited about band," said Van Middlesworth, who's taught here for 18 months. "People are noticing us. We're getting noticed nationally. That's a big deal. I'm really glad that the community is behind us and the school is behind us and the parents are behind the band program because these kids are doing a great job."
The jazz band currently is preparing for a trip on Friday to the Jazz Festival at Kansas University. Next Tuesday, the band will participate in league festival. The band's next public concert will be April 11, the day before state music festival.