For Taneytown drum major, Citrus Bowl was sweet


January 13, 2000|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW YEAR'S DAY, for many of us, might have been a time to take inventory of our stocked water, canned goods and the like that was never needed. Others may have been recovering from too much pre-Y2K fun.

But for Joyce Watkins, a senior at Francis Scott Key High School, it was a day in the sun among the Florida citrus.

On Jan. 1, Watkins was on a football field in Orlando, Fla., facing a crowd of 70,000 spectators who were waiting to watch the Citrus Bowl Millennium half-time bowl show.

"It was amazing," said Watkins, drum major for the marching band at Francis Scott Key. "When we got there, we had a meeting for performers and spectators. We went to the grand ballroom [of the hotel] and all I saw was a sea of people. And then Bruce Hart, the director, comes up and gives us a speech and tells us that the audience is going to be 70,000 people, with 14 million more watching on television."

Her route to the Citrus Bowl began when she was picked as drum major for the marching band and attended drum major academy at West Chester University in Pennsylvania from July 30 to Aug. 2.

"That was a really invigorating experience," said Watkins of Taneytown. "It taught you how to work with people to get them to do what they needed to do to perform a great marching band show. It was not so much about conducting but more about being a leader."

During her stay at the university, she said a representative from ESP Productions talked with the drum majors there about the Citrus Bowl.

"He said we would receive a flier about two to three weeks after we completed the drum major academy," Watkins said. "I was waiting for it."

But when the flier arrived, there was a snag.

"I was going to have to spend $849," Watkins said. "I thought, `I can't do this.' I had just raised $3,000 to go to Europe last summer, and I didn't want to ask people for money again. But then something hit me that this was something I had to do." Watkins said her family and friends paid her way to Florida.

She arrived in Florida on Dec. 28 and during her first rehearsal, she had an instructor who had been one of her instructors at the drum major academy.

The show was seven minutes, she said.

"The show was phenomenal," she said. "We did these pinwheels with five people per pinwheel. Remember that drum majors are the only people who perform with their backs to the audience and here we were in the center of everything."

Watkins said the trip was a learning experience.

"I learned to be more flexible with time and changes and also to be more flexible with people," she said. "We had people from all over the country."

Watkins is back at school now and thinking about college. She has been accepted at the University of Dallas, a small Catholic college, but is also considering other schools.

"It was the first acceptance I got," she said.

Super Bowl party set

Union Bridge Fire Company will sponsor a Super Bowl Bull and Oyster Roast starting at 4 p.m. Jan. 30 at the fire hall.

"We're going to have two big- screen TVs that will be up on the stage," said Bob Boone, who is coordinating the effort. "We'll have a rotating menu that will begin with steamed, raw and stewed oysters. Then we'll have pit beef and fried chicken, Italian sausage, vegetables and cheese. The buffet will be served until the start of the third quarter."

Boone said beer and setups will be available. Cost is $25.

Information: Bob Boone, 410-775-7830.

Blood drive

The American Red Cross Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region is holding a blood drive from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 24 at Union Bridge Community Center.

According to area news reports, the blood supply is very low. While that might not be uncommon after the holidays, it is particularly bad during flu season.

Information: Stanley Holcombe, 410-775-2270.

Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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