GHS band conquers the elements and all competition

The GHS band competed - and won - in a tournament in Ocala in the rain.

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Published: Monday, October 21, 2013 at 5:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 21, 2013 at 5:58 p.m.

A torrential downpour couldn't stop the Gainesville High School Hurricane Band from sweeping a marching band competition in Ocala over the weekend.

Despite a heavy rain that only lasted 15 minutes -- the duration of the Hurricane Band's time on the field -- the band took home top awards in five categories as well as the Grand Championship at the Ocala Marching Band Festival at Westport High School.

Band director Bill Pirzer said it's not the first time the marching band has played through a storm. The Hurricane Band got drenched at 2007 football game and a 2009 band competition, as well.

“Something about being a Hurricane, I guess,” he joked.

Twenty-four marching bands competed at the event on Saturday, and the 100-member Hurricane Band took the field at 3 p.m. to perform its 9-minute piece, “Bach in the Digital Ages.”

Pirzer said it started sprinkling as the band began, but less than a minute into the piece, the sky opened up. By the time the band was finished, students were dumping water out of their instruments.

“It was one of those famous Florida frog-stranglers,” he said.

Miraculously, none of the instruments were ruined. Pirzer took home some of the soggier woodwinds and dried them out with a hair dryer.

Electronics that were part of the show had to be sent to the shop for a check-up, and the marching band's uniforms need cleaning, he said.

Pirzer said the Hurricane Band took home 15 or 20 awards, including Best Visual, Best General Effect, Best Music, Best Color Guard and Drum Majors.

And best overall, which the Hurricane Band won by 8.5 points.

“Quite a remarkable spread for a band competition,” Pirzer said.

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or

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