Updated: Jun 15, 2018
This is one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" stories. One of the best things about being a Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps alumnus is that there is an endless supply of cool and unusual stories throughout its history. My time with the corps is no exception. One of the most unusual things I witnessed during my last season with the Regiment occurred when we least expected it.
It was the week of the 1983 Drum Corps International World Championships. The August days were hot, humid, and rainy at our rehearsal site at Western High School in Davie, Florida. We could set our watches to the daily rainstorms that began at two and ended at three in the afternoons. The cirrus clouds drifted from south to north and the cumulus clouds raced from west to east. The humidity was so high that we would leave the gym at 7:30 each morning and our clothes would be soaked with sweat ten minutes after stepping onto the field. Our only relief was the cool breeze coming from the ocean.
This day was no different than the others. During the afternoon M&M (marching & maneuvering) rehearsal, the staff gave us a water break. As with most corps, we had disposable cups and garbage bags at the ready. Someone, I believe one of the euphonium players, got the last cup out of its plastic bag and threw the bag on the ground. Less than a minute later, the fun began.
A gust of wind blew near the water cooler where some of us stood. It picked up the plastic bag and the bag floated three feet off the ground for a few seconds. We figured it would fall back to the ground and we’d go back to the field.
But it was not to be.
A second gust of wind hit and the bag was now six feet off the ground and rising. A third gust of wind hit and the bag began its ascension to the heavens.
A few of us stood and watched as the bag rose. I checked my watch and we had a minute or so left before we had to get back on the field. By then, most of us were marveling at the plastic bag that once contained disposable cups gaining altitude.
Some of us tried to guess when the bag would come back down, but we were wrong every time. Then we tried to figure out how high it would go.
The bag defied gravity and went higher by the minute. After a while, all we could see was the light reflecting off of it. At an altitude of around two to three thousand feet, our plastic bag finally rose out of sight. I checked my watch again. The break had been over for at least ten minutes. Then telling us the fun was over, the staff got us back on the field to continue rehearsal.
I wonder where that plastic bag ended up...