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A 'Peach' of a holiday

WHS Trojan Marching Band at Peach Bowl this weekend

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The Spirit of Worthington Trojan Marching Band is showered by confetti during their performance in the 2019 King Turkey Day parade. (Submitted photo by Anne Foley)

WORTHINGTON — It isn’t every year that Jon Loy, Worthington High School band director since 2006, takes his show on the national road.

But 2019 happens to be one of those years.

At 6 p.m. today, 131 WHS band students (along with 36 band staff, chaperones and tag-a-long family members) are due to board four Reading Bus Line motor coaches in the WHS parking lot and begin a roughly 21-hour journey to Georgia.

Destination: The 2019 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“The Peach Bowl music committee and festival planners have high expectations for our Trojan band and ‘We the People’ parade show,” said Loy, who is leading his award-winning troupe to its fifth national appearance in 14 years.

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“We are ready to go, and we will deliver.”

With its peppy, stirring and broadly patriotic theme, “We the People” seemed a fitting representation for a venue such as the Peach Bowl, which is why the Peach Bowl music folks pressed Loy into moving forward with a national tour only two years after the band’s last one (to the Hollywood Christmas Parade in late November 2017).

“We launched the campaign for this trip about a year ago, in November 2018,” said Loy, “and the kids have been able to participate in three major fundraisers since then to help cover their trip expenses.

“There’s also been an overwhelming response from this community and individual service organizations to help meet our financial needs; people have really supported the band and these students, and we are very grateful for that.”

While in Atlanta, the band will be centered at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel.

On Friday at 11 a.m. CST, they’ll play in a field exhibition show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Later that day, they will dine at Atlanta’s Hard Rock Café.

Saturday is the premiere date, with the band’s scheduled step-off in the Peach Bowl Parade at 8 a.m. CST, followed by a massed performance with the other participating high school bands (from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Georgia) at noon CST.

The Trojans’ performance day will be capped at 1 p.m. CST when they are featured at the Peach Bowl’s FanFest. Afterwards, the celebrated football contest between the #1-ranked Louisiana State Tigers and the #4-ranked Oklahoma Sooners is sure to hold their attention.

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The WHS students’ final music performance will be as a concert band on Sunday, when they play at 8 a.m. CST.

“Our Worthington students recognize what a great representative they can collectively be for their community and school on a national level,” said Loy.

“There’s a great deal of preparation that must be undertaken in a disciplined way for these widely broadcast performances, because they’ll appear before a live audience of thousands — and thousands more via telecast.”

Loy recently learned that the Trojan band has been chosen to lead off the Peach Bowl Parade.

“They [the Peach Bowl organizers] really like our parade show — what it stands for, its inclusive and patriotic nature — and they want that to be their shining moment at the start of this year’s Peach Bowl parade,” he said.

In addition to their several musical commitments in Georgia, the Worthington group has some sight-seeing built in to the trip, mostly after their work is done.

Visits to the College Football Hall of Fame, the Georgia Aquarium, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the World of Coca-Cola and the CNN Tower are all on the agenda before the coach buses will once again be boarded for the long road journey home. They are expected to arrive in Worthington around 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

“Trips like this one are both educational and memory-making,” said Loy.

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“It takes two years of planning and preparation to pull this off, but I enjoy the planning process and being part of a team that can offer kids an opportunity they maybe couldn’t get anywhere else.

“Whenever you travel with a group this large for an extended period of time, you can’t help but support one another and share all the common experiences,” he continued.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to share this with students and give them a chance to learn more about the United States and themselves.”

The Worthington High School “Spirit of Worthington” Trojan Marching Band’s performance schedule at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Ga., follows (all times noted are CST, and performances may be viewed on the Spirit of Worthington Trojan Marching Band’s Facebook page):

Friday at 11 a.m., Field exhibition show

Saturday at 8 a.m., Peach Bowl Parade step-off

Saturday at noon., Peach Bowl Massed Band performance

Saturday at 1 p.m., Peach Bowl FanFest performance

Sunday at 8 a.m., Peach Bowl Concert Band performance

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