Ironton’s ‘Million Dollar’ band has successful trip to Atlanta

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 4, 2002

When Ironton High School’s "Million Dollar Marching Band" went to Atlanta for the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl last week, members were treated to a plethora of excitement.

Friday, January 04, 2002

When Ironton High School’s "Million Dollar Marching Band" went to Atlanta for the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl last week, members were treated to a plethora of excitement.

Email newsletter signup

If having the opportunity to take in the sights of a major American city, participate in the Peach Bowl Parade and perform in the pregame and halftime shows of the game itself were not enough, the band also came home with some impressive hardware.

During a field competition held in conjunction with the Peach Bowl Sunday, the IHS color guard – consisting of the flag corps and majorettes – were judged best overall and the band itself placed second in the small-school class. The color guard’s award covered all three classes that participated in the competition.

"It was a very successful trip," noted Bill Rath, IHS band director.

The band’s adventure actually began on Saturday. After arriving in Atlanta Friday evening, members spent the next day taking in the sights of the city. They spent part of the day on Auburn Avenue, the stomping grounds of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While there, they toured the King Center -a museum honoring Dr. King – King’s boyhood home, his church, Ebenezer Baptist, and his final resting place.

"It was a very good display about his life and the movement itself," Rath said.

Also on Saturday, the band toured the CNN studios, the World of Coca-Cola Museum, the Underground Atlanta shopping complex, and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe.

On Sunday it was time to work as the band took part in the competition, which was held in the Georgia Dome. After the competition, the band joined up with 13 other bands from 10 different states for "Mass Band" practice. The "Mass Band," which was made up of about 1,000 students, was the band that performed at the Peach Bowl game. The evening was capped off with a banquet and awards ceremony.

When Monday rolled around, the band was marching down Peach Street in the annual Peach Bowl Parade. Rath said band members were really impressed by the reception they received from the crowd.

"You’re in a big city with tall buildings on both sides and a lot of people watching you," he said. "It was exciting – they really enjoyed the experience."

After the parade, members attended Fan Fest, which included games, food and entertainment. Then, it was game time.

With the "Mass Band," the IHS contingent performed four patriotic numbers in the pregame show, which was themed "A Salute to America." At halftime, the combined band performed a medley of three songs before retiring to the stands to take in the rest of the game, North Carolina’s 16-10 victory over Auburn.

Rath added that Patty Freeman, who supervises the IHS band’s color guard, was selected to assist in the direction of the flag corps of the "Mass Band," something he described as "quite an honor." Also, he said officials of National Events, the organization that coordinated the "Mass Band" performance, were "very complimentary" of the IHS students.

Although this was the "Million Dollar Band’s" first trip to the Peach Bowl, it was not the first time it performed at a large venue. Twice the band has played at the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands and has also marched in Chicago’s Christmas parade.