by Kimmy Keck, corps manager
On July 4 in Cedarburg, WI, after the parade, Southwind departed for a 12- hour drive to Kansas City, MO. As they got about 15 minutes outside of Cedarburg, an announcement came through the CB radios, “We need you to stop for a minute . . .”
“Are you okay? Are all the kids okay?” the guard bus driver replied.
“Yes, but . . .”
“Is it the bus?”
“You got it!”
After arriving at the scene, we learned that bus #151, the horn bus, had blown a gasket. Yes, folks, blown a gasket — or at least we thought.
Pulling into the nearest McDonalds, the staff learned that as soon as the bus came to a complete stop they were to completely clear the bus — everything! Everything, honestly meaning everything, including pillows, seat covers, pictures and all of the other festivities that decorate the bus to add to its character. Bag after bag, suitcase after suitcase, the asphalt in the parking lot slowly began to disappear under the sea of luggage, office supplies, boxes of “to be altered” uniforms and any other equipment that you might imagine seeing on a staff or member bus.
As games of tag football and frisbee began to engage in the free area of the parking lot, the corps director decided it was time for a staff meeting. The management team and caption heads scurried together to discuss a few options of how to work through the current dilemma. The choices were: spread out all the staff throughout the remaining three buses — the problem with this was that there were six open seats and about 23 staff, plus their luggage. Well, I am no mathematician, but I don’t think that those numbers can possibly add up and that the group could continue with all the members that they originally started with.
Or — put the horn line members on the staff bus with only the “essential” staff necessary for the next day’s rehearsal.
So this would mean that all of the “non-essential” staff members, including the corps manager and the tour manager, would be left behind. Therefore, in order for one to be essential, one would have to be a designer, a caption head or have a flight out the next day.
Then the next hurdle to jump was to find a place for those that were considered “non-essential,” which didn’t seem to be a pressing issue (as they were non-essential). Only a few blocks away, a Chalet Motel was found, where the expendable staff was taken to stay the night. The plan at that moment was to have the remaining staff meet up with the corps in Missouri on the repaired 151 bus that would only be about 12 hours behind. If it were only that easy.
“Well, I only could hope for a blown gasket” (deep breath). “The engine is shot! We don’t have a bus unless you have about $15,000 for a new engine or $700 a day to rent a bus.”
“Can we borrow a bus from someone?”
“There is the option of Capital Sound. Let me make a few phone calls and I will get back with you.”
After the phone conversation ended, the news was spread throughout the motel and they prepared for a longer stay at the Chalet Motel.
About 30 minutes later, a voice from heaven called to let the “non-essential staff” know that the Capital Sound bus was available and that they could borrow it until they found out what to do about the broken bus. By this time, there was no way for the staff riding the un-air-conditioned Blue Bird (school bus) to catch up with the rest of the corps in Missouri, so they rerouted toward Wichita, KS.
To make matters worse, on July 12, we also lost our support staff vehicle and the oven in the cook truck.
It is now July 13, and the corps is still about $12,000 away from being able to get the much-needed transportation for a trip through Texas and the remaining tour. This bus will not only serve us for the remainder of the year, but for the 2005 season and more. Without the funds for the bus now, we will be starting the beginning of next year’s season $15,000 in debt, which may make it impossible for the corps to survive in the future.
With your help, by donation, Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps will be up and running with a new engine. All donations are tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt as proof of your donation.
Please send any donation to: Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps Bus Fund, Attn: Kimmy Keck, 1475 W. Main Street, Sun Prairie, WI 53590, or call for more information: Kimmy Keck, corps manager, 407-924-3608; or Alison Stephenson, tour manager 734-355-2664.