Only two bands from the state of Georgia performed in the pregame show at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta where Auburn played Central Florida on New Year’s Day.
And both were from Carroll County. The Bowdon High and Carrollton High bands performed on the field with schools from Florida, Illinois, Mississippi and Michigan.
When the Bowdon band members arrived, they saw nine other buses of band students preparing for the parade.
“When we saw the other bands gearing up for the parade we became excited because we did not expect to perform,” said Bowdon High School Band Director Matthew Bass. “We pulled it off, thanks to the buildings blocking the wind and the sun warming us up a little.”
“It was absolutely the experience to remember for a lifetime,” said Carrollton Band Director Chris Carr. “It was absolutely freezing but our students fought through it and performed anyways.”
Carr said the temperatures were so low that the instruments froze within minutes if the students did not blow hot air in them to keep them warm.
“We had arrived at 5:30 in the morning for the parade before the game, said Bass. “Before we had even left for the bowl game, I had told the students that it was too cold for the parade.”
The Bowdon band participated in a competition with a dozen other bands during the parade and placed first.
“The students had so much fun performing and meeting with the other bands,” Carr said of the Trojan marching band. “Many people confused us for the University of Central Florida because of our team colors so the students got a kick out of that.”
Both Bowdon and Carrollton then performed in the pre-game performance that was comprised of about 500 students and six bands.
“We played a tribute to Bruno Mars and the National Anthem,” Bass said. “What people may not know that made this experience so special for us is that the Chick-fil-A Bowl is the only high-profile bowl game for national championship-type of games that allows bands to perform during the game. The Rose Bowl does not do that anymore. There are bands for the parade but not the game.”
Carr said that this was a big deal for both Bowdon and Carrollton being the only Georgia bands to perform in the pregame show. Both bands have been practicing the music for a a couple of months since they were invited to perform at the bowl.
“This was a great experience but this is just the beginning,” Bass said. “We hope to continue to perform on a high level both in and outside the classroom.”