The Marching Bees kicked off the New Year by earning the right to perform a solo show at the Florida Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
The Marching Bees left for Florida Wednesday Dec. 27 after planning for the trip for almost a year. The entourage consisted of 94 band members including drum major Alyssa Alton, junior drum major Garrett Biedermann, band director Melissa Bushee, assistant band director Laurie Raschella (who is also a teacher at Ray Middle School) and numerous chaperones.
The band arrived home Tuesday Jan. 2 and when asked how it felt to have returned victorious, Bushee said, "It feels really, really good. I know the kids are really excited about it."
The Bees vied against 30 other marching bands from across the country in both a field competition held Saturday and a parade competition held on New Year's Eve.
According to Bushee, the Bees field show was approximately eight minutes long and consisted of routines and rituals that the students were very familiar with.
"It's almost like a mini-musical," Bushee said as she described the show. "It's a pretty neat thing to see."
She then described the parade experience, noting that the band doesn't often get to perform in that type of setting.
"It was really fun because we never do anything like that," Bushee said, then added, "At first the kids didn't get that people actually bought tickets to watch the parade."
She said it was neat to watch the drum majors saluting the judges and the judges saluting back, noting the party like vibe of the crowd.
As the Baldwinsville entourage awaited the results on New Year's Eve, they all held hands in eager anticipation.
Bushee laughed and said, "We were all sitting together at about 10 different tables and the announcer kept milking the moment. When he finally announced (the overall winner), everyone went straight into the air, like those poppers you see on New Year's Eve."