It almost didn't happen
Before it turned golden, it was dark as a heavy cloud hovered over Northampton Area High School Band Director James Sansone.
As the clock ticked toward midnight Wednesday, March 20, members of the Northampton Area High School Big "N" Band had their bags packed and were ready to board buses for Chicago to compete in the Windy City Classic.
Inside the band room office, however, Sansone was faced with the prospect of calling off the trip. NAHS had contracted with a New Jersey based tour bus company specializing in student trips. However, its buses reportedly were pulled off the road by authorities for alleged safety violations.
Sansone made call after call to bus companies in three states in an attempt to fill the void. The 18th call was a success.
The problem was not only locating a bus company with two available buses, but also each bus had to provide two drivers because of the length of time the buses would be on the road.
Finally, Advance Coach of Lititz, Lancaster County, came through, indicating it would dispatch drivers and the buses, but they would not arrive before 3 a.m.
A loud cheer greeted the sound of buses rolling up in front of the high school. The nearly 60 band members and color guard, plus chaperones, quickly filled the seats. Many fell asleep before the buses were out of the borough.
As they arrived in Chicago the following day at approximately 5 p.m., the students cheered and showed no signs of fatigue.
"We won gold in two categories," Sansone said. Both marching and concert band participated.
At Dominion College, NAHS musicians were involved in an instructional workshop given by the college's music professor.
Band members had time for sightseeing, visiting sites such as the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower.
The 15-hour ride back home was more relaxed. The bus and its drivers occasionally stopped for food and snacks, which the students enjoyed.
Although tired, smiles radiated from the faces of the boys and girls as they arrived back at the high school about 11 p.m. March 24.