MANATEE -- Thousands of marching band fans sat transfixed this weekend under the dome at Tropicana Field during “Air,” Braden River High School’s 15-minute show about the history of flight.
“I have watched the show 15 times this year and I was moved to tears more than once by the dynamics of the music,” said Chris Cahill, whose son, Ethan, 17, a junior, plays the mellophone in the Pirates marching band.
Evidently, the judges were also moved as they awarded Braden River High School fourth place during the 25-school Class 3A Florida Marching Band Coalition state championships Saturday in St. Petersburg.
It was Braden River’s highest ever finish in state competition.
The Pirates’ percussion section, including drum line, was voted No. 1 in state during the competition.
“We have great parent support, a great marching band staff and great kids with an incredible work ethic,” said Kendall Carrier, Braden River’s director of bands, after the Pirates’ showing.
Braden River hosted the state semi-finals for Class 3A earlier Saturday and advanced to the finals.
Gainesville, Coral Glades and Cooper City-Miami high schools finished ahead of the Pirates in the state competition.
Parents praised Carrier, called “Mr. C.” by students, for the Pirates’ rise in Carrier’s fifth year at the school.
“I remember when Ethan was a freshman coming home excited from band camp,” Cahill said Sunday. “He would say, ‘Dad, guess what Mr. C. said? He said if we work really hard we might go to the Dome this year.’ That first year they did go to the Dome, in Class 2A. And last year they went back and finished ninth in state. Every year it grows and gets better.”
To show the strength of Carrier’s program, there was a delegation of 200 Braden River fans in the stands at Tropicana Field.
Carrier’s assistants include Aaron Stone, who is in charge of visual coordination and drill, Conrad Perry and Mike Mallen, who are in charge of percussion, and Ricardo Robinson, who supervises color guard.
This season, Braden River’s marching band was named Grand Champion at three competitions including Lely-Naples High, Palmetto Ridge-Naples High and Lakewood Ranch High, Carrier said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.