Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman, Munford Mayor Dwayne Cole, Rep. Debra Moody and Director of Schools Dr. Buddy Bibb were among the 500 or so people packed into the Munford High School gym Tuesday night.
Munford band director Barry Trobaugh was wearing a tuxedo and three strangers from New York were on hand too.
With all that pomp and circumstance, members of the Munford band and their supporters, who had shown up not knowing what to expect, had to figure something big was going to be announced.
At about 8:15 p.m., the secret was revealed: The Munford High School band will perform in the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
Munford was one of 10 college and high school marching bands chosen from hundreds of applicants.
“It was a surprise for everybody,” Trobaugh said. “Only a handful of people knew. It tickled me that everybody was so excited.”
After the band performed a few songs, Wesley Whatley, the parade's creative director, addressed the crowd and revealed the news.
“It's my job to go around the country and see who is doing it right,” Whatley told the crowd. “And in my professional opinion, Munford High School is doing it right.”
Trobaugh said it took about four months to complete the application, which included video, photographs, a list of the band's accomplishments and letters of recommendation from people around the country. He submitted the application March 1.
“It's not something you do over a weekend,” Trobaugh said. “This committee is extremely selective. It takes an extremely strong program to do this. It all falls back on the students. If they don't perform, this doesn't happen. This is the culmination of all the hard work we've done for years.”
When the news was announced, the crowd stood and cheered and the band members seemed a little in shock, looking around at one another.
Amy Kule, the executive producer of the parade, made the trip to Munford from New York. Kule said she and a committee sit in a conference room every year for a week, poring over hundreds of applications.
She said Munford's clearly stood out.
“Its an incredibly gratifying experience to be able to come to Tennessee and see these bands up close, see the look on their faces when they find out they're going to be a part of this American institution,” Kule said. “Fifty million people watch this on TV. We choose the best from America's high school and college bands. This band had some incredible integrity. I love the small town feel. If the bands are the heart of the parade, this band is certainly going to be the heart of the band program.”
2015 Participating Bands
■ Lewis Cass High School Marching Kings, Walton, Ind.
» Munford High School Marching Band
■ Nogales High School Marching Band, La Puente, Calif.
■ Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjack Marching Band, Nacogdoches, Texas
■ University of Illinois Marching Illini, Champaign, Ill.
■ University of Virginia Cavalier Marching Band, Charlottesville, Va.
■ Walled Lake Central Viking Marching Band, Walled Lake, Mich.
■ West Chester University "Incomparable" Golden Rams Marching Band, Penn.
■ Macy's Great American Marching Band
■ NYPD Marching Band, N.Y.