How many marching bands have been asked to perform for the President of the United States? The Belton (Texas) High School Marching 100 has.
Approximately 45 members of the band played a concert for the Bush family during the wedding rehearsal dinner for first daughter Jenna Bush and Henry Hager.
The event in Salado, Texas, was held under very tight wraps, and when Director of Bands Ron Davis learned about the gig, he was sworn to secrecy. “I told [members of our top band] that we were asked to play for an important event that Friday,” Davis says. “I couldn’t tell them who we were playing for. I told them: ‘If they were available and went, they wouldn’t regret it.’”
Before attending, band members submitted personal information and identification for a background check by the Secret Service. Students couldn’t bring cameras and cell phones, and Secret Service performed a security check on the buses, cargo and instruments.
“We hung around for a while and practiced a little bit,” Davis says. “Then somebody came and said, ‘Come with us,’ and we literally jogged with them out to the cabin—that may not be the right word, it was a nice place, but in the woods—and hid in the woods.”
The band played the fight song from the University of Texas, Jenna Bush’s alma mater, and other pep tunes for the wedding party and guests outside the cabin where the dinner was held. The band even surprised the groom with “Happy Birthday” for his 30th birthday, which was the same day.
“It was amazing,” says Heather Beltz, a junior piccolo player in the band. “At first, I thought ‘Oh yeah, we’re playing for the president, whatever. But when I actually saw him, I was freaking out. He actually came up and danced with me and my friend. I actually couldn’t believe that the president was standing next to me.”
The band received the opportunity to play the concert because the band in Salado was away for its spring trip.
The mother of a friend of Jenna Bush worked in the Belton School District and made the connection to ask the Belton High School band to play. This summer, the band will perform at the city’s annual Fourth of July Parade and prepare for marching season in the fall.
Photo courtesy of Belton High School Marching Band. All rights reserved.