Marching Panthers play on national stage at Orange Bowl

The Marching Panthers perform at the Hard Rock Stadium during the Orange Bowl on Saturday, December 30, 2016. (Photo by Tim Grout)

The Marching Panthers perform at the Hard Rock Stadium during the Orange Bowl on Saturday, December 30, 2016. (Photo by Tim Grout)

MIAMI – Two planes, four charter buses, 187 band members, three times on the Hard Rock Stadium field, one Universal Studios Macy’s Parade, all added up to a lifetime of memories for the members of the OTHS Marching Panthers as they travelled to Florida to perform in the Orange Bowl and the Universal Studios Macy’s Parade.

Freshman sousaphone player Davin Asberry said he was most looking forward to performing during the halftime show because not a lot of people get to do it. Davin and the rest of the band started off their trip with their flight experiencing a nine and a half hour delay. But there was no delay in their practice schedule the next day as they rehearsed for the Orange Bowl at Nova High School. After a two hour rehearsal, the band headed to the Miami Seaquarium where they encountered sharks and dolphins and manatees. That night, they were served a classy beach side barbecue, danced beside the waves, and were awarded a plaque to preface their Orange Bowl performance. Band Director Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds recognized Kathy Cornwall for her 11 years as a band booster and chaperone.

The next day, the Marching Panthers returned to Nova High School to practice the half time performance with dancers from across the country. Afterwards, the Panthers went to Hollywood Beach and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe before heading to the new Hard Rock Stadium.

The band amazed and attracted cheers even as they warmed up and stood waiting for their performance. Even though most of the fans mistook the Marching Panthers for the Michigan State band, there was no mistake that the OTHS Marching Band was the jaw dropping ‘Missing Piece’ in the pre-game. A member of the Florida State University band said, “I haven’t seen some college bands that act as professional as [O’Fallon does] much less perform like [they] did.”

The band was also honored to present the 50-yard American Flag during Grammy Award winner Maddie and Tay’s performance of the National Anthem. The band continued to keep up with the dancers during their halftime performance with DNCE.

But the memories did not end with the Orange Bowl. The next day, the Panthers explored the Universal Orlando Resort and performed in the Universal Studios Macy’s Parade. They rang in the New Year next to the Universal Globe in the Universal City Walk and with the New Year comes new opportunities for the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers to make dynamic strides in the music world.

Becca Jones-Scales is a senior at OTHS and a member of the Marching Panthers Drum Line