Sharing Mana‘o

From my home in Kahului’s 12th increment, I can hear the Maui High Sabers Marching Band whenever they practice outdoors. In recent years, under Kerry Wasano’s direction, the MHS Band has built a reputation as one of the state’s top marching units and even participated in the 2015 Rose Parade in Pasadena.

The drumbeats of the marching Sabers always revive happy memories of my own marching days, over 40 years ago. The familiar sound also stirs just a tiny bit of competitive envy, a remnant of the friendly but fierce rivalry between Maui High and my alma mater, H.P. Baldwin High School.

In the early 1970s, Lance Jo was our band director and James Kidoguchi led the Sabers. Their marching band programs differed in style; Mr. Jo was more of a traditionalist than Mr. Kidoguchi. The Sabers wore informal uniforms of white shirts and white pants with blue sashes around their waists as they trotted in double time, while we donned what we called “monkey suits” – jackets, trousers, vests and plumed helmets – to march at a more conventional pace.

For the 1971 homecoming game (between Baldwin and Maui High, naturally), Mr. Jo decided to revive the tradition of a halftime show, “just like the college bands.” It was the first time in years that the Bears band would be showcased on the field, and since we had no experience in marching formations, Mr. Jo mapped out a few simple patterns for us. Playing the “Hawaii 5-O” theme, we arranged ourselves into a sketch of an island with a lone palm tree, then a stick figure hula girl that actually danced, sort of. As I proudly told my parents so that they could spot me on the field, I was one of the hula maiden’s kneecaps. We finished our show with the traditional Baldwin fight song, “Come Rally,” as we formed the letters “BHS” and marched triumphantly off the field.

It was my sophomore year, the same year that I performed in my first play, “The Wizard of Oz.” For the rest of my time at Baldwin, drama and band were my passions, and I am eternally grateful to Mr. Jo and drama teacher Sue Ann Loudon for their guidance and support.

This year, Baldwin High celebrates its 80th anniversary and alumni are encouraged to attend the homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 14, against Maui High (of course). Band director Noel Kuraya has organized a halftime show to include recognition of alumni — all alumni, not just former band members. The special moment will take place near the finale of the show, when alumni will be invited to assemble on the track in front of the field. No marching involved, just look for the guy waving a big flag on the track as your cue to come down and be applauded. Former homecoming queens will also be recognized at the game and at Rally Night on Sept. 12 in the BHS gymnasium. Please contact Donna Vierra at Donna_vierra@baldwin.k12.hi.us if you’d like to participate in the halftime show and/or Rally Night.

This year’s theme is “There’s No Place Like Homecoming,” with a nod to “The Wizard of Oz.” Considering my sentimental connection to Oz as well as the marching Bears, you can imagine how distressed I was when I realized that I won’t be able to attend the festivities due to prior commitments. I do own a pair of glittery red shoes, but alas, there isn’t enough magic in those ruby heels to transport me to two places at once.

My hope is that so many alumni show up for this year’s homecoming game the school will include us in next year’s halftime show. With a whole year to refresh my marching skills, I could easily reprise my role as the left kneecap. With a little help from the Wizard, I might even be promoted to hip.

* Kathy Collins is a storyteller, actress and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is kcmaui913@gmail.com.

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