The big 30 foot tent was coming down with the help of ten pairs of tired hands. â€œThis thing sure comes down easier than it went up!â€, observed Bob Benson. He was just one member of a small army of parents and students who were cleaning up late last Saturday on the Desoto Central High School campus.
The tent had been the site of an all day live auction, during which over 300 donated items of merchandise, gift certificates and collectables were sold off to the highest bidder, bringing in over $10,000 in cash. It was just one of dozens of activities and attractions that brought thousands of local residents out in support of Desoto Central High School Marching Bandâ€™s upcoming trip to Hollywood, California for their first ever national television appearance in the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Dubbed â€œBand Aide Dayâ€, the event was the brainchild of band booster mom, and event organizer, Suzanne McDonald.
It all started back in June when DCHS Band Director Dennis Cox received an official invitation from the parade organizers in Hollywood. Because of the late notification, the November 27th parade date left precious little time to raise the $150,000 that would be required to fund the long journey to the west coast. Mr. Cox called a special July meeting of the Band Boosters to discuss the situation. As a solution to the limited time to garner the required funds, a decision was made to focus most of the fundraising efforts into a single large event involving the entire community. Dozens of parent and student volunteers made themselves available to help make it happen, but no one knew for sure how successful such a large scale fund raising project would be.
Last Saturday, they got their answer as thousands of local residents descended on the campus to spend the day looking over the 88 vendors in the flea market area, most of which were manned by band booster families, who had set up to sell everything from jewelry to home baked pastries. Visitors also feasted on the wide variety of food concessions that were available. Dr. Stuart Denman, a veterinarian who lives in Charleston, Mississippi got wind of the bandâ€™s need and volunteered to purchase up to 600 chicken halves with his own money. Then, after making the long drive to Southaven, he cooked them on his custom made rotisserie grill. The band was able to sell over 500 of the chicken plate dinners, netting more than $2500 toward the trip fund. As thanks for his extraordinary effort, Dr. Denman was awarded a special plaque naming him as an honorary member of the state champion DCHS Marching Band.
But the biggest â€œcash cowâ€ (literally) of the day, was a four legged bovine named Daisy. The Jersey cow was the star of the â€œCow Patty Splatâ€ event that would net over $43,000 for the bandâ€™s travels. Participants had been sold $10 tickets which purchased a specific 22 inch square grid segment on the schoolâ€™s soccer field. In the natural course of events, Daisy eventually â€œmarkedâ€ the lucky spot on the field. Any grids blessed with the first deposit of former cow ruminations were matched up with their ticket holders. In this case, Mary Fore and Mark Marchisio split the $10,000 cash prize.
In all, â€œBand Aide Dayâ€ was an unqualified success. A total of more than $60,000 was raised to help to propel The Pride of Desoto Central Marching Band toward history as the first band from the state of Mississippi to travel to Hollywood and reach for the stars â€“ or at least rub elbows with a few.