FILE PHOTO The Red Bay Marching Band will welcome alumni members for a special halftime performance Friday.

Red Bay hosts Reunion of Bands

When Red Bay first began its band in 1939, bands in Franklin County were hard to come by, with some students transferring from Russellville for the chance to play. Fast forward 80 years, and 42 band alums are joining the 35 current members for a halftime performance Friday.

The band will perform a full set at halftime, but the set list and plans for the halftime performance are under wraps. The band has already had one practice last weekend after performing at Founders Day. 

“It’s good to help us remember where we came from,” said band Director Mark Gajewski. “It’s good to give those people a chance to give it one more go around.”

Gajewski, a new hire at the school, said he has had fun organizing the show, but most of the planning took place before he became band director.

Bridget Berry said she and her husband have been trying to organize a Red Bay Reunion of the Bands for three years, but serious planning began in July. Her husband, a former trumpet player in the Red Bay band, loved the idea of reliving his time in band and also marching with his daughter Mattee.

“As a mom, it is going to be great to see them out there together because as much as they may fuss and fight sometimes, they really are just alike,” Berry said.

Berry said of the 42 alumni signed up to perform at halftime, at least four currently have children in the band.

Berry said in organizing the event, she was surprised how many people came forward who she did not know were previous band members.

“It’s just amazing to me all of the people who were involved in making Red Bay’s band over the years,” Berry said.

She said she hopes the current band members enjoy hearing stories about the band from alumni, but she also hopes seeing what previous band members have accomplished will encourage other students to join.

“I hope it inspires some of our kids to see what the arts can do,” Berry said.

Throughout the past 80 years, the band has seen many band directors and an array of set lists, but the thing that has not changed is the love the community shows the band.

“I think it’s awesome we were able to have a band before a lot of these bigger schools and that we’ve had such a faithful following all of these years,” Berry said.

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