Tomorrow kicks off the best time of year for me, Pageantry Season.
If you are out of the Bear Feed Loop – one of my main hobbies is that I judge competitive high school marching band competitions. I’ve been doing it for nineteen years .. which let’s face it, is a pretty long time. It’s strange that I keep any ‘hobby’ going for more than a couple months, let alone nearly two decades. Judging Marching Bands is my last great connection to the marching arts activity that started for me back in 1985; and helps to feed that educator blood that seems to flow through my veins (no matter how much I try to bleed it out of me). Because its an always developing artistic media somewhere during that time, people referenced the activity as ‘Pageantry Arts’ – and while it isn’t completely fitting, a few of us embraced that ‘Pageantry’ term .. for some of us to make ourselves feel fancy.
Tomorrow, I judge my first show of the season in a hot bed of great organizations in Bellbrooke, Ohio. While early season, I am expecting a great evening of performances in the early infancy of their development. With my role as adjudicator, I get to be a part of helping them develop those performance. What’s not to love?
Well, the tomorrow morning, but stay with me here.
I work with a guild/fraternity of judges called Central States Judges Association (CSJA), whom not only were key in getting me work, they literally taught me all I know about marching band judging. With the exception of a couple shows I did in Massachusetts last year, every show I have judged has been through CSJA. In the time I have worked with CSJA, I’ve work around 5 or 6 weekends every fall across the Midwest & South. I’ve judged in twelve different states from Nebraska to Florida, from Oklahoma to Georgia. Along the way, I’ve done 15 different state and regional championships – and this year I get to do two more including a major regional championship held in Memphis’s Liberty Bowl and the Louisiana State Championships on my birthday no less (assuming no hurricane goes through there that day). But because CSJA is a fraternial organization, I get to do all of this with people who have been good friends for years and years and years. People I faced 9/11 with, people that stood by me when I escaped to Alaska, people who can tell as many stories about me as people I see every day of the week.
Yes this is a ‘job’ of sorts, and yes I call it a ‘hobby’. But of all of this … I don’t have to do it … I GET to do it.
Well, I have to do tomorrow morning too.
See, Saturday mornings on a show day are usually the worst – the absolute worst. Usually, I spend all day Friday traveling to get to the hotel at the show site. We tend to grab dinner, maybe a drink, but the focus is on getting a good night rest before the show. It’s usually hard to get a good nights rest because, for one, you are in a hotel – but also it’s a shared room, and for a guy that travels alone alot sharing a room is always weird. So I tend not to sleep well Friday night, and wake early. On the big championship days, we usually need to get going to the show by mid-morning; which moves smoothly enough. But the other shows, like the one tomorrow, the show doesn’t begin until late afternoon. My report time is 4PM. So let’s say I crawl out of bed at 7AM, I have NINE HOURS to kill.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things I have to do to prepare. Check to make sure my equipment works properly, review the judging criteria, going through my mind the proper techniques I need to use, clean-up and get into uniform. But there is only so much time you can do to do all that, and even if I stretch it out – I still have seven hours to kill.
Since it is the first show of the year for me, the anticipation will be overwhelming. I’ll want to leave for the show site hours and hours early. I will be dressed and ready to go probably while they are still serving breakfast. Heck, I am tempted to find a high school football game just so I can judge the half time show.
Usually Pageantry Sunday mornings are tough too – a long day of judging can be exhausting, and is usually combined with a long travel day home. But at least I am in the afterglow of a great day/night of pageantry. It’s the Saturdays that are killer.
So, I sit here on a Pageantry Friday Night, dreading a Pageantry Saturday Morning, but that Pageantry Saturday Night is going to be so worth it.
Good luck all you Pageantry kids out there, put on a good show, and can’t wait to see you give me what you got.