Saying “See you later, Alligator!” isn’t turning out to be easy for the Legend Titan Marching Band.
After taking first place in the Gator Bowl parade Dec. 31 and marching in the halftime show Jan. 1, the 75 members of Legend’s marching band were ready to go home. Their flight was scheduled for 3:10 p.m. on Jan. 2, but as they arrived at the airport, it became apparent there was a problem.
“They just kept delaying the flight,” sophomore Jill Wetzel said. “Sometimes by a half an hour, sometimes by an hour.”
Their flight was scheduled to go through Chicago, which was in the middle of a giant winter storm sweeping the Northeast. When the plane finally boarded at 8:30, the kids and chaperones had been at the airport for over eight hours.
“I was just ready to go home,” junior Amy Conrad said.
But after sitting on the plane for 15 minutes, it became obvious that something was amiss. A flight attendant announced that due to weather conditions, the flight had been cancelled.
“I thought maybe we were going to have to sleep in the airport,” sophomore Andrew Duncan said. “[Sleeping in an airport] has always been on my bucket list.”
Other band members were not so excited. “I had surgery for my wisdom teeth scheduled the next day,” sophomore Sarah Ackerman said. “My mom had to reschedule it.”
After an hour wait at the airport, the band took shuttles to a nearby Marriott hotel. Airport employees told Band Director Orlando Otis that, due to the group’s size, it could be until Jan. 7 or 8 before they could get the band on a flight home.
“Now we’re weighing our options,” Otis said. “We’ve considered charter buses and even trains.”
Otis, along with chaperones and administrator Mari Farley, also on the trip, have been working to make sure the band is safe and comfortable during the delay. On Jan. 3, the band made a trip to Walmart in order to buy food and other necessities.
News has spread of the band’s story. Denver’s 9News ran a story in their Jan. 3 broadcast as did Jacksonville’s WJXT 4.
“There were people with cameras taping us and asking kids for interviews,” junior Nick Martin said. “We watched a stream of 9News. It was a little unreal, hearing them talk about us.”
The Band is currently staying at the Fairfield Marriott hotel in Jacksonville, Florida. It is unclear when and how they will return.