Over eight weeks of high school football games, we've taken note of unusual theme shows, crowd-pleasing gimmicks, accolades and awards area bands are scoring.
Here's a roundup of our Friday night highlights.
HOWARD SCHOOL OF ACADEMICS AND TECHNOLOGY
7-year-old drum major
* NoWhat's up: A 7-year-old student from Calvin Donaldson Elementary School co-directs the Marching Tiger Band.
Kameron Reed marches down the field alongside drum major Clayton Mason, a senior at the school, leading the band through pregame and halftime shows.
Kameron learns a different show every week and shadows everything Clayton does -- including the deep backbends that are the hallmark of a show-band drum major's style.
* NoEarly recruits: Dexter Bell, band director at Howard School of Academics and Technology, said involving children was his idea to form a feeder program. He held auditions and chose Kameron for his "good sense of rhythm and great grades."
In addition to Kameron, the band has a dance team of seven elementary schoolgirls, the Classic Kittens.
* NoDirector's grade: "Kameron's learned how to direct and keep time for the entire band. He does a salute and sometimes has to do maneuvers by himself," Bell said. "Being that young, having to learn it all in one summer, then perform in front of a crowd as large as ours, I think that's a great accomplishment."
OOLTEWAH HIGH SCHOOL
Going to Disney World
* NoWhat's up: Ooltewah's 92-member band is one of two bands in the nation invited to march in the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade.
* NoOn the road again: The band will be in Orlando Nov. 30-Dec. 4 to tape the parade for its Christmas Day airing on ABC.
The Owls have already traveled to Band of America Eastern Kentucky Regional, where they placed third in their division, ninth overall. They will compete in Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the 50th anniversary show of the Contest of Champions on Oct. 22.
* NoSmokin' hot show: Director Joel Denton said this year's theme show is "Inferno." The band wears hooded robes with flames stitched around the hem so it appears the musicians are walking through fire.
"We have nine, 14-foot trampolines on the field. The students march over an elevated ramp and go in and out from underneath the trampolines. The show ends with 80 large fire-decorated flags spinning, as though fire is consuming everything, while the students all move underneath the trampolines. At show's end, the field is empty."
TYNER HIGH SCHOOL
Marching in nation's capital
* NoWhat's up: Tyner Academy's band has accepted an invitation to march in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C., next July.
* NoFundraising under way: Director Elias Smith said the band will hold a silent auction in December as part of its annual holiday concert. "We could use items for that silent auction," the director asked of community help.
Additionally, the Band Boosters are holding fish fries at the school every other Saturday from 10 a.m. until sellout. One order is $5.
* NoSenior Cedric Cobb says: "Since it's my last year, I'm looking forward to spending the four days with the people I've grown up with, doing what we love: making music."
RINGGOLD HIGH SCHOOL
Taiwan donor helps recoup tornado losses
* NoWhat's up: "Everything has been replaced thanks to so much generosity from a lot of people and a lot of sources. We're back where we've always been," said director Robin Christian.
The band lost three equipment trailers, drum-major stands and practice area during the April 27 tornadoes. The Ringgold students were guests of Heritage High School's band for summer camp and rehearsals until Ringgold High School's renovation was complete.
"Heritage folks were so good to us, but the kids were so happy when they got back here," said Christian. "There's no place like home."
* NoAnonymous donor: Christian said that two weeks before marching season began, he got a phone call from Damon Raines at 10 on a Friday night. Raines, director of operations for Catoosa County Schools, informed the band director that through his Georgia Emergency Management Association contacts, he had been notified of an anonymous donor in Taiwan offering $30,000 to pay for "unmet needs from the disaster such as replacement of uninsured items."
"The first people I thought of was the Ringgold band because of the significant damage to its trailers," said Raines. "Here was somebody from another country who had some money to give to help us."
Christian said the band had the paperwork to GEMA three days later.
* NoBack and better than before: Christian said the gift not only replaced all three trailers, but they have been lettered with the band's name.
"Our band practice facility is completely redone. We have a new pavilion, new paved marching surface, even a paved road leading back to the area, which we never had," he said.
* NoMorale booster: Christian said the band competed at the Armuchee Band Invitational in Rome, Ga., and won best in class in every section and won overall grand champion.
HIXSON HIGH SCHOOL
Sousaphones from Beijing, music from Brazil
* NoWhat's up: Through the assistance of Giant Steps Music in Hixson, the Band Boosters purchased two sousaphones, costing about $5,000, that were played in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The new instruments provide a solid bass line for the band's halftime show of music from Brazil.
* NoLighten up: "We had a set of very old, marching tubas," said director Matt McHenry, "but it had gotten to the point that they were so large there were only a few kids who could carry them. We started using sousaphones the year we had freshmen playing [tubas], who were just too small to carry tubas. We've borrowed instruments from other bands who had extra."
Solo sax player kicks off games
* NoWhat's up: Baylor senior Marshall Farrell, 17, has opened three home football games and two Lookouts baseball games by performing the national anthem on his saxophone.
* NoMusic background: Marshall began playing at age 10 and is a student of UTC professor Clint Schmitt. He also plays guitar. He plans to major in music performance at either Indiana University or Ohio State.
* No fear: "The first time, maybe I was a little shaky. But now I'm not nervous, just in the zone," he said of performing solo before several thousand football fans.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...