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59th Annual Toyota Gator Bowl

January 1, 2004 - Jacksonville, Florida


Busy Bee Band & Honeybees in the 59th Annual Toyota Gator Bowl

Highlights from each day:

Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The day began with the group arriving for an early breakfast and then a quick trip out to Terry Parker High School for a rehearsal in preparation for the evening band spectacular performance.  After the hour-long practice, the group traveled to a nearby mall for lunch and then traveled out to the beach for a quick play at the Atlantic Coast.


The evening closed with a performance at Bolles High School as the group participated in a band spectacular with several other high school groups that are participating in the Gator Bowl festivities.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Following a continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn, the group returned to Terry Parker High School for their first rehearsal with other participating high school groups in preparation for the mass band halftime performance.  Ken Dye, band director at the University of Notre Dame, directed the 1500-member group in his arrangement of a Beach Boys Medley and "Hey, Hey Baby".

Following practice, the group ate lunch at Parker High and quickly traveled to downtown Jacksonville for the Winn-Dixie Gator Bowl Parade that was televised regionally on the Sunshine Network.  The group was greeted by several thousand Mountaineer fans who loudly supported the home state group.  WDTV Channel 5 also met up with the group for a taping for the local news.

Wednesday evening, the band joined the other participating high school organizations for an awards ceremony and banquet hosted by Bowl Games of America at the Prime E. Osburn Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville.  The Busy Bee Band & Honeybees received awards for 3rd place Field Show, 4th place parade and received awards for Best Overall Music and Best Overall Auxiliary.  Following the awards and dinner, Bowl Games provided entertainment for a celebration of the New Year.

Thursday, January 1, 2004

On Thursday, January 1, 2004, East Fairmont's Busy Bee Band & Honeybees joined several other high school groups from around the country to perform at the 2004 Gator Bowl Parade in Jacksonville, Florida.  Over 78,000 people attended the traditional bowl game between the West Virginia Mountaineers and Maryland Terrapins.  The attendance level was a new record for Alltel Stadium, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Despite a lackluster performance by the Mountaineer football team, the band enjoyed the 70-degree weather and Florida sunshine.

Arriving at the stadium at 8:00 a.m., the band joined the other groups for one last practice together for the 12:30 game.  Following a brief rehearsal, the group ate lunch at the stadium and took their seats to watch the game.  Mid-way through the second quarter, the band filed to a staging area and took the field at halftime.  Ken Dye, director from Notre Dame University, lead the 1800-piece ensemble in his arrangements of "Hey Baby" and "Beach Boys Medley".  Following the performance, the group returned to their seats to watch the remainder of the contest.

Thursday evening, the band returned to the hotel to pack instruments and uniforms and have dinner.  The group left Jacksonville early Friday morning to return to Fairmont.

"Really great" Experience
December 28, 2003 - Times-West Virginian

Travis Hamrick practices some of the music the Busy Bee Band will be performing in Jacksonville, Fla., during a rehearsal Saturday. - PHOTO BY TAMMY SHRIVER

By Jill Nettles  Courtesy Times-West Virginian

EFHS Busy Bee Band and Honeybees eager to join Mountaineers at Florida's Gator Bowl

FAIRMONT - The East Fairmont High School Busy Bee Band and Honeybees practiced one last time Saturday morning before heading Monday to Jacksonville, Fla., for the Gator Bowl.

"I think it's a great honor and a great experience for everybody to be there at the same time as the Mountaineers," Earl McConnell, EFHS band director, said.

West Virginia University will play the Maryland Terrapins at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.  The band found out in September that it was chosen to participate in the Gator Bowl festivities after being spotted by a scout at a band spectacular in Ohio. And soon after, the Mountaineers were selected to play in the Gator Bowl.

"What makes it really great is that the Mountaineers are in the Gator Bowl," McConnell said.

The Busy Bee Band and Honeybees are used to participating in historical events. In 2001 they played at the inauguration of President George W. Bush and in the Rose Bowl Parade.Due to this winter's weather, a lot of the Busy Bee Band and Honeybee practices had to be done at home.

"We had to learn two new dances, and we have been practicing at home because of the snow," Honeybee and EFHS senior Morgan Kincell said. "I'm excited and can't wait to go down to Florida."

Kincell mentioned that she and the other members were going to try and get the other bands to support the Mountaineers during the game. During Kincell's sophomore year, the band traveled to Orlando.
Mike Swisher, a 1996 EFHS graduate, will be traveling with the group to Florida and will be e-mailing pictures back to West Virginia. He also will be posting daily updates and pictures on "In 2001 when we went to the Rose Bowl, the Web site had 5,000 visitors," he said.


Chartered buses carrying the 190-member band and the Honeybees will leave around 7:30 a.m. Monday for Jacksonville.  At approximately 11 p.m. Monday evening, the group will arrive in Jacksonville. Tuesday morning there will be a rehearsal for a field show contest at a local high school. The band will perform at 8 p.m. that evening in the field show contest performing tunes, including "All That Jazz," "Celebration" and "It's A Most Usual Day."


At 3 p.m. Wednesday the band will participate in the Gator Bowl Parade, playing such songs as "This Is My Country." Later in the evening, the band will ring in the new year at the Jacksonville Convention Center.
Thursday is the reason for the whole trip, as the band prepares for the Gator Bowl. At halftime, the band will join others to perform in front of 80,000-plus people at the stadium and for the audience watching on NBC.  On Friday, the band will return home.

East band accepts invitation to take part in Gator Bowl
October 29, 2003 - Times-West Virginian

By John Veasey  Courtesy Times-West Virginian

To march in annual parade in Jacksonville, participate in special halftime finale at game

PLEASANT VALLEY - East Fairmont High School's Busy Bee Band is going "bowling."  Director Earl W. McConnell said the Busy Bee Band and Honeybees has been invited and accepted an invitation to take part in the 2004 Gator Bowl festivities.  McConnell said the band will march in the annual Gator Bowl Parade at 2 p.m. on New Year's Eve through downtown Jacksonville, Fla.


And the band will be one of 20 high school units performing in a special halftime finale during the Gator Bowl game itself.  The Gator Bowl will be televised on NBC.


This will be the first major event since the band performed in the Inauguration parade for President George W. Bush in January of 2001.  One year earlier, it had been in Pasadena, Calif., for the Rose Bowl Parade ushering in the new century.


"We were contacted to see if we were available," McConnell said, explaining that he had been called by Scott Baker who was representing Bowl Games of America.  "They had heard of us before in other events and wanted to see if we would be a part of their entertainment package for the 2004 Gator Bowl game on New Year's Day," he said. "Believe it or not, Mr. Baker had visited our Web site the week after we had visited Massillon, Ohio, on Sept. 20 for a Band Spectacular. We had placed photos of the event on our Web site and he was checking our Web site and wanted to know if we would be available for the Gator Bowl and would like to come."


He said Bowl Games of America run the halftime events for the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Liberty Bowl as well as the Gator Bowl.  "I think the exciting part about this is the students will be able to be at the game as well as participate at halftime," the veteran director said.  McConnell said the band would leave by bus on Monday, Dec. 29, and travel straight through to Jacksonville.


On Tuesday there will be a rehearsal for the halftime show at the Gator Bowl. A band spectacular is scheduled at a local high school Tuesday evening in which the Busy Bee Band will participate. All the bands will be hosted at the Jacksonville Convention Center on New Year's Eve.  The Gator Bowl Parade is scheduled Wednesday afternoon with the game set for Thursday.  The band will return on Friday.

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