|Opening Ceremonies Dress Rehearsal|
In 1986, as the renovation completed on the Statue of Liberty for her 100th birthday, a group known as the College All-American Marching Band or Liberty Band for short, spent twelve plus hours a day rehearsing and practicing.
|76 Trombones at Giants Stadium|
We spent the first six days with the full band, indoors and outdoors, working on our routines and music. The practices were grueling and in intense heat. Ambulances lined the field and were called to action six times to transport band members to the hospital. By the time we reached the last few days of practice, my lips were cracked and bleeding. I laid off on the playing toward the end to save up for the actual performances. Fortunately, I healed in time!
As we neared the performance weekend, we rehearsed in the two venues, Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands and Governor's Island off Manhattan. Most nights, we would return to the dorms at three in the morning and be back at it 7:00 am.
|Break Time during Closing Ceremonies rehearsal|
We traveled by police escort all throughout the region. I'm sure there were plenty of New Yorkers that weren't too happy about that! Governor's Island hosted the Opening Ceremonies. Security was tight each time we traveled to the Island. President Ronald Reagan and President Mitterand from France would attend the ceremony and relight the Statue of Liberty.
|The main stage with waterfalls in Giants Stadium|
As we moved to the venues for rehearsal, you could feel the Hollywood production come to life. DavidWolper, famous for such works as Roots, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original) and producer of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympic Games, was the Executive Producer for Liberty Weekend. Every part the Liberty Band participated in was scripted down to the minute. As we neared the Liberty weekend, the excitement grew. The band came together, the music got tight and we realized we were part of something big.
We rehearsed with the Manhattan Transfer, Shirley MacClaine, Elizabeth Taylor, Gerry Mulligan, The Tempations, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Gene Kelly, Liza Minelli, The Pointer Sisters, and more.
By July 3rd, we were riding on fumes. But it didn't matter, because this was going to be the show of the century.Jim Devitt is the author of the #1 Kindle Bestselling Young Adult novel, The Card. He's also a healthcare consultant specializing in helping healthcare companies and practices develop a social media marketing platform, and maximize cash flow. You can find him posting weekly to Indies Unlimited and occasionally as a contributor on Yahoo!