Again, Waconia was sharp and amazing today. They seem to be getting better and better each time. The man next to me commented on their performance and was shocked when he learned that another band kept beating us parade after parade. And according to his opinion (and as we have heard from so many other onlookers this season), we had a much better, memorable, classy, and appealing show than did the other band. Park Center HS has been our biggest rival, often beating us out of the Grand Championship by a mere one point or less. Out of 100 points, that is a VERY tight race (Mankato is the only other band that ever can compete with these top scores, but we have not run into them much this season). But while they have been receiving top honors, we have continued to win first in our class, and often have been winning the People's Choice Awards. The band members have been so discouraged by their just-missed losses, and we can not seem to convince them that People's Choice is actually more rewarding than that grand trophy. Because really, it is the fans that you want to be impressing and who you are doing the show for. Sure, Park Center is barely beating us by judging standards, but the crowd is coming out to see US. That is something to appreciate.
Today was our day. Waconia nearly accomplished a clean sweep of awards. Not only did we win first in our class, best winds, and best colorguard (all awards that we typically manage easily in each parade), People's Choice (again!), and finally......Grand Champion!!! All of the kids were on their feet, jumping around on the field as the parents of Park Center sat in the bleachers with their mouths hanging open. One woman from PC next to me said, "I don't know what to do! This doesn't happen to us! How are we suppose to react?" I replied, "Now you say, 'That was a good band too.' That's what we have been saying about you guys all summer." Boy, did our kids need that boost for their upcoming competition of all competitions tomorrow in Alexandria. They had been becoming more discouraged with each tight loss to PC in the past week.
After the awards, it was up to the St. Cloud parade for all of us. Jonny and I had missed lunch, so by 5:30, we were starving. We ate at Old Chicago before meeting up with Daddy who had driven up after work at the clinic. Placing our chairs across from the "magic J", we settled in for our second parade of the day (keep in mind that each one is between 2-3 hours long followed by more than one hour of awards at a separate location). The parade began on time, and was moving along well. But somewhere in the first 30 minutes, it began to rain. First just a little sprinkle, but quickly turning into a steady rain laced with downpour moments. After two hours, we were SOAKED through.....and that was with an umbrella and water proof rain jackets. With the temps falling to 60 degrees, we were becoming chilled to the bone.
As the spectators around us gave up in greater numbers and filed for their dry homes, we were determined to remain until the bitter end. As luck would have it, Waconia was slotted in one of the last groups in this 90+ unit parade. We saw some neat floats, some good marching bands who played their music without stopping to perform their show in the rain, and we met Al Franken. After a two and a half hour wait, St.Cloud's own band ended the show. And behind them, came the Waconia Band buses, with all of our kids warm and dry inside. They had never even gotten off the bus! Though disappointed to have come all this way to not even see them march, our little family stood up tall and waved vigorously and clapped as they drove by. We could tell by the silhouettes behind the tinted glass of the luxury coaches that nearly everyone was waving back. Alex told us later that Tubby's little cuteness waving to them in the rain (I had pulled him out of the stroller and held him high on my hip to celebrate our band) was the hit of the buses (all four of them).
Now cold and wet, Bob went home, and we drove another hour up to Alexandria. Pam and Lyle were waiting for us as we arrived at Mount Carmel's Bible Camp in the darkness which occurs after 10pm. We could not see much in the unlit camp, but our room in the lodge was beautiful and spacious. Grandma and Lyle gave us a quick tour where we found some cookies to snatch for a little snack before bed. They retired to their nearby cabin while Jonny and I found DRY jammies and cozied into one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on, next to my own. Ahhh.....................