Citrus Bowl My A@#. More Like Citrus Hole

playing clarinet marching band 1987 Lexington Ohio
Work. It.

 

 

I was reading my friend Teri’s blog post about how college’s need to start showing the marching band during half time college football games a few weeks ago and it got me reminiscing about my marching band days.

Over Christmas break of 1987, our little Ohio high school marching band got to go to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Citrus Bowl band competition as well as march in the Citrus Bowl Parade.
This was quite exciting for our band as well as very expensive.
We had to sell things like light bulbs, oranges and booklets to the Ponderosa Steakhouse to get down there.
Ponderosa gift certificates
Anyone want some steak?

 

This is the thing that sticks with me all these years later…..light bulbs?
Really?
We sold them door to door not through a catalog on a day where the rain was so hard and fast,  you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.
Oh and did I mention it was also the day of Homecoming?
While most of our classmates were getting their hair poofed up to the sky and nails all done up, my fellow band mates and I were trudging through the mud and muck selling GE light bulbs so we could go march in a ten mile parade over Christmas break.
TELL ME WHEN THE GOOD PART COMES AGAIN?
Selling crap for Citrus Bowl
I still have a cold from that day.

 

I kid, I kid.
When you are 17, you aren’t thinking about things like iron lungs or deductibles when standing in the rain for three hours straight.
I just remember it was really, really hard to light my cigarette with all of that rain getting in the way of my hooded band raincoat.
Did I say that out loud?
When I came down with mononucleosis a few weeks later, no one at all suspected the light bulb monsoon incident.
Everyone blamed my boyfriend, my part time job, the stress of being a senior in high school.

Blah blah blah.

 

Band director 1987 Lexington High School Ohio
How did this person get on our bus?
Meanwhile, we were being whipped into a frenzy by our band director who was saying buzz words like, ” televised”, “sunny”, “no parents”.
It was quite exciting for the bunch of us and the first huge band trip we had taken the four years I had been in high school.
A great way to end our high school marching band career, I might add.
So of course we had visions in our heads of being famous by the time we returned home.
Tour buses Lexington Ohio
We even got fancy buses.

 

Because we were gonna be on the TV!
Like, the actual TV that you see on…….TV.
It was about that time that I started working on building up my hand muscles.
I needed to get ready for all that autograph writing I was going to be doing.

Gonna be famous!
People will be lining up to get a whiff of my essence because they will recognize me from the television set!
Weren’t you the one in the band uniform marching down the streets of Orlando?
Why yes that was me, thank you very much!
Can I get a whiff of your essence?
SECURITY! 

It was as I was staring at the ceiling, picturing endorsement deals from Atari, Wheaties and Reebok when I was jolted back to reality….”THEY AREN’T AIRING THE PARADE OUTSIDE OF ORLANDO”.

Wait, whut?
“They aren’t airing the parade outside of Orlando”.

What about all of my admiring fans?
What about my parents?
What about the essence whiffer???
HOW ARE THEY GONNA SEE MEEEEEEEEEEEE???
WAIT, HOW IS REEBOK GONNA PAY ME??????
It turns out our entire town wouldn’t get to see the parade until we returned back from Florida.
On the local access channel.
Several weeks after the fact.
It’s okay.
IT’S OHHHKAY!
We will have a viewing party!
It will be fun!
We will have snacks!
And beverages!
And then we will be famous!
Now where did I put my good pen and paper??
Bus arriving in Orlando
ORLANDO ARE YOU READY FOR THIS MUCH AWESOME? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

 

Once in Orlando, it was not quite the dream vacation we had envisioned.
First, our hotel room.
Let’s just say that it wasn’t “clean” when we got there.
Food wrappers, beer bottles and lots and lots of used condoms.
The one thing I remember is one of the girls in the hallway saying, “it smells like sex in there” which of course made me laugh out loud and nod knowingly because I was 17.
But in reality I had no idea what that smelled like. 
I was the most naive 17 year old in the history of 17 year old’s.
It also made me start sniffing the air like a mad woman because I kind of wanted to know what in the hell “sex smelled like”.
It doesn’t smell good, in case you were curious. 
Practicing for Citrus Bowl
Marge, is that a marching band in the parking lot or are they just happy to see us?

 

Once our room was ready and the sex smell was less, well, sexier, we got to unpack and then go …to the pool??
NOOO!
WE GOT TO GO PRACTICE!
YAY FLORIDA!
I can’t remember too much about the day to day but the one thing I do remember about Florida was The Olive Garden.

It was my and I am assuming most of my fellow band mates first experience with all things Garden and Olive but this is what you need to know: this particular Olive Garden was open for breakfast.

 

 

Olive Garden 1987 Orlando
We thought Olive Garden was a cool breakfast place. Who knew?
Yes.
Yesssssss.
We had Olive Garden for breakfast buffet every day we were in Orlando.

It was good as far as my memory serves but I also didn’t know what sex smelled like so don’t go off of me.

Lexington Band of Gold 1987
90 some strong and proud. And my head is blocked by the plume of the person in front of me.

 

Oh wait!
I almost forgot that we did have a moment of fame while in Orlando!
Our band made the local newscast while we were there.
They featured our band out of all the bands at the Citrus Bowl Competition.
I don’t know who somebody had to sleep with to get it done but it was pretty awesome.
* NO ONE HAD TO SLEEP WITH ANYONE*
Enough of that was done in our hotel room before we got there.

 

Randy Heidlebaugh at Citrus Bowl
Our band director being interviewed by the news station. I am the fool doing the Pee Wee Herman in the background. Completely oblivious to the fact that the NEWS CAMERA IS RIGHT BEHIND ME.

 

 

 

They interviewed our band director, miked up our field commander and essentially followed us around for the entire day of the competition.
What they weren’t ready for was 94 Ohio kids who were ready for stardom.
I have never seen so many human beings in my life (me included) trying so hard to get on camera without actually looking like they were trying to get on camera.
When the newscast came on the television later that night, I remember all of us huddling around as many TV sets as we could find in our Kissimmee hotel.
I can only imagine the annoyance of the other guests to not only find out they are sharing their hotel for the week with an entire marching band from the Midwest but to then find out that they are sharing it with wannabe celebrities with massive ego complexes.
Speaking of big heads, mine got on the news!

 

Kari hair at Citrus Bowl
Mighty nice braid you got there little lady.

 

 

I do believe I may have screamed, “MY BRAID IS ON THE TV!!!!!!! MY BRAID IS ON THE TV!!!!”
Over.
And over.
And over.
And over.
Throughout the halls of the hotel.
My best friend Wendy actually got face time!

 

Wendy at Citrus Bowl
Sexy beast.

 

And called her mom back home to tell her.
I called my mom to tell her about my braid, so…….

 

Bus drivers at Citrus Bowl
All the buses for the other bands in the parade. Who actually got parade screen time.

 

The parade was really pretty fun but quite exhausting.
We mostly marched in complete darkness for the entire parade because the parade was at night.
The only part that was lit up was when we reached the televised section.
It was an intersection in Orlando that was surrounded by bleachers on both sides of the street, lots of people and blinding lights.
We were mostly keeping our “chops” (band talk for “mouths”) relaxed for this moment and also because utter darkness along the rest of the parade route.
Marching Band close up
Nothing to see here, ONLY A FRIGGIN’ SENIOR SECTION LEADER BLOCKED BY TWO UNDERCLASSMEN.  But it’s okay. Really.

 

They actually had people who stop the bands and kind of corral them into the bleachers area.
Make sure that the flow is smooth and the bands and floats etc. don’t bunch up like one really sad parade traffic jam played out on camera for America to see.
I do remember hearing that Spuds Mackenzie was in the parade with us and that was quite exciting at the time.

Of course we never got to see him because we were busy marching in utter darkness.

Citrus Bowl Parade 1987
Damn dog. And is that Robin Givens?
We finally got to the part where we were in the literal spotlight and it was quite exciting!
The lights, the body heat from all the people, the nervous sweats I had goin’ on in my uniform, and the cheers of all the people!
BUT MOST EXCITING WERE THE TELEVISION CAMERAS TAPING US FOR OUR TELEVISION DEBUT!
This was it!
I could feel it!
We were going to be famous!
This little marching band from in the middle of nowhere Ohio with the big sound!
Who are they??
Where did they come from?
Who is that cute blonde playing the clarinet?


I knew Hollywood would be calling as soon as we got off the Greyhound knock-off bus we rambled into our little town a few days later.
I FELT IT IN MY BONES.

 

 

Lexington Band of Gold Orlando 1987
Me getting off the bus for the parade, or what I like to call my only Hollywood moment.

 

 

When I was on the pay phone with my mom outside a rest area near Columbus on the way home a few days later and I didn’t hear anything that resembled a crowd in our family room, I knew something was up.
“Oh okay you are an hour away? Sounds good! Can’t wait to see you!” 
We did have a welcome home committee.
That consisted of our parents and siblings.

 

1987 Marching Band return from Citrus bowl
There is my braid again. We should all know it by now because hello famous.

 

 

Once we lifted our own suitcases out of the pile of mess they threw out of the buses….I bet Spuds didn’t have to lift his own suitcase but whatever….. we were on our way home.
My mom had my favorite foods made, a giant sign was on the garage door welcoming me home like the movie star I was.
It is about time someone treated me like the celebrity I am!
It was so good to be home.

 

A few weeks later, we settled down one late winter evening for the viewing party of the century.
We couldn’t wait to watch ourselves on the television set.
I think we had the public access channel on all afternoon and set to videotape even though it wasn’t supposed to air until seven o’clock that evening just in case it would randomly come on.

Teenagers would implode if they had to live back then.


So we impatiently waited by our little TV down in our family room that night until finally it came on.
Ahh the magic of technology!!!
The Citrus Bowl Parade!
IN OUR FAMILY ROOM!
Three weeks later.

Still!

We watched with anticipation knowing when our part was coming.
Oh! I remember that float!
Oooh look at all that we missed!
SPUDS MACKENZIE GOT HIS OWN CARRIAGE???

Spuds McKenzie Citrus Bowl
Damn dog. AND SERIOUSLY….IS THAT ROBIN GIVENS??

 

We danced along with the Clemson University Marching Band remembering their cadence as we didn’t march too far behind them in the actual parade.
It was fun talking about the parade and re-living Florida all over again with my family.

We noticed that all the marching bands were getting their names announced, their band directors names announced and enjoyed the little anecdotes the announcers were making about each band.
THAT WILL BE US SOON!!!
HOW EXCITING IS THIS?!?!?

Then after weeks of anticipation, I saw a familiar band banner making its way at the top of our television screen.
HERE WE COME, HERE WE COME!!!!
I could see our band hats, us marching perfectly in time, wow, we look…….perfect.

First bad omen- they said we were from a totally different town in Ohio.
Like, a town two hours away from where we actually lived.
It was as we were registering…wait, did they just say we were from a completely different town…..that they went to commercial.
Over our band.
They actually ran a name of the upcoming band as a graphic over our marching band, just as we were starting to come onto the television screen.

 

They gave a dog that drinks malt liquor more air time than our band.
Our band who worked tirelessly for hundreds of hours to get to Florida from Ohio.
They cut us off.
I started to cry.
Then I started to scream.
Then I did what a 17 year old female does best.
I called my best friend Wendy to cry and scream about it.
Together.

 

Simultaneously, we both said the G rated version of “ARE YOU SH#$%NG ME?????”
I am being too prude.
Of course we said,  “ARE YOU SHI$$%ING ME??”
The phone lines in Lexington, Ohio were hot that night.
If social media existed back then, I can guarantee that our little band would have been on Good Morning America the following Monday or on the Ellen Show the week after.
That is if Ellen existed back then.
Well, SHE existed but her show didn’t.
I am getting away from the topic.
The point is, they done us wronger than wrong.

I held a grudge with Florida for a long time.
Secretly, I still do.
I still give it the side eye when I see an orange or anything citrus related on the television or in person.
THAT’S RIGHT TANGERINE, I DON’T WANT ANYTHING YOU ARE SELLING.
Oooh is that a clementine?
Never mind then. 

 

clementines
….even thought they come from California STAY WITH ME PEOPLE

So the next time you are at the football game and you see me clapping a little harder or longer for the band, you know why.
And if you see me at the grocery store stomping the hell out of a errant grapefruit?
Look the other way.
LOOK THE OTHER WAY, MAN.

Dedicated to the memory of one heck of a band dad. 
Papa Dillon, you will be missed. 
10-10-15