This Saturday, Arsenal returned to San Antonio to compete in the Southwestern Championship, and we had a blast performing three times; our show, the SoundSport anthem, and then a DrumLine Battle to wrap up the day. We defended our Best of Show Title, and received a performance ranking of Silver. We lost the DrumLine Battle, but it was so much fun to face off against the Guardians and throw down in front of thousands of people. I told the DrumLine, “you’ve done the hard work, now have some fun” and that’s exactly what they did.
That night, around midnight, I left the stadium with the souvie van. The plan was to meet the bus somewhere on the road, and then swap folks between the van and the bus as we got tired to keep pushing through to El Paso. Then my phone started ringing- something was wrong with the bus.
We stopped, we turned around, and we called EVERYONE. We had to get our members out of the heat and we had to get moving again. We succeeded with the first, but struggled with the latter. It was 1:00am; there wasn’t another bus, there wasn’t a service truck, and most corps already had their drivers in the hotel for the night. We sent out a van to go to every hotel in the area and ask if there was a conference room we could crash in. Staff that was already an hour out turned around to make sure we had the people we needed to take care of this situation.
Then I learned that the equipment truck, already in Carlsbad, had blown a tire. And that the bank had shut down the Arsenal debit cards because of ‘suspicious activity’.
We ended up leaving the Alamodome a full 24 hours after our performance time.
And you know what? Everything went wrong and we pushed through. The members shrugged it off like it was nothing; they went, they slept, and carried on like this was nothing new. I remember a moment where I was hunched over my laptop, trying another lead, and pausing because I heard the members laughing in the room next door- they were taking salsa lessons with our visual caption head.
Parents started blowing up my phone. How can we help? What do you need? We’ll have pizzas for you. We’ll have sack lunches for you on the road.
But The staff were the real heroes. We were all exhausted, but they pushed through and they got it done. They got meals donated. They fought the bus company for me while I slept. They kept the members happy, and they kept the ball rolling. I am eternally grateful to my staff for going above and beyond.
Above all else, this incident proved that Arsenal has what it takes. We have the right people, in the right places. We’re a family, and we meet disaster with a smile and a ‘together, we can fix this’ attitude. I am so proud of this little corps, and am amazed at the sheer strength of character I witnessed over the past forty-eight hours.
A huge thank you to John DeNovi, who recommended we shelter in the Alamodome, and a huge thank you to the Alamodome staff for letting us do so. Thank you to Robert Taylor for serving as remote admin. Thank you to the countless admin teams who paused their post SW celebration to try to help our little corps out. Thank you to the folks who donated on our website. Thank you to Denny’s for giving us breakfast at a massive discount, to San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk for donating bottled water, and to Whataburger for donating lunch. Thank you to the parents who made lunches for us. Thank you to the drivers for Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps and Sacramento Mandarins who helped us jump our bus.
…and thank you to Arsenal’s members and staff. Words can’t express how proud I am to call this organization home. I can’t wait to celebrate our season with you tonight.