Having been a "flag girl" in high school, I am aware of the trials, sacrifices, drama and exhaustion that goes with the activity. But that was back in the day. Back in nineteen eighty *something*.
Nowadays, flag and rifle lines are called "guard" and have their own activity, winter guard, of which the band is not invited (tee hee).
These days expectations are more demanding. Lines are straighter, tosses are higher and, what's this? The guard smiles now. We used to be instructed to look intimidating, kind of mean even--being at attention and all.
Competitions are ALL DAY LONG. When I say ALL DAY LONG...I mean, the day starts at 5 a.m. and bedtime isn't until 4 a.m.
Competitions are such long affairs, the seasons change. One arrives in summer, sporting a light jacket. A sweat attack occurs in the afternoon--everyone wishes they'd worn shorts and halter tops (well, maybe not everyone).
When the sun goes down, flags and rifles are fumbled due to cold-numbed fingers. The spectators watch the awards ceremony wrapped in blankets. Some parents cause near riots at the concession stand for the warmth of a cup of hot chocolate to hold. Trash can fires are considered.
These competitions are the icing on the cake. They are the big deals which bands have been preparing for since the heat of mid-summer during band camp. Competitions are prepared for by arriving at school an hour early every morning and staying late for practices nearly every day.
To say that marching band is an extreme sport is an understatement.
Anyway...a salute to the bands (and parents) in the throes of marching season right now.
It's tough out there!