This past weekend, I traveled with the USC Trojan Marching Band to South Bend, IN for the Notre Dame vs. USC football game. This was the second time I have done this trip with the band (the first being during my sophomore year). It was an amazing trip and I had a great time exploring the city of Chicago and supporting the team, even if we ended up short of the victory.
On Thursday morning, I got to the band office at 6:00 AM. I was sooo tired, and fell asleep immediately once we got on the plane. We arrived in Downtown Chicago around 5:30 PM and had a great night exploring the city.
The trombone section went quickly over to Millennium Park to take some pictures before the sun set and before our section dinner. The trombone section has been eating dinner at the same restaurant every trip for many years and it has become a tradition. We go to a pizza place on the north side of the river called Gino’s East. It is a fun place to go, with friendly staff and good food. We all got markers ahead of time, so we could write our names on the wall and add to the hundreds of names already on the wall. It was fun to see different peoples’ names already written there from previous years, and try and find an empty spot to write your name. I ended up writing mine on the ceiling… It was a great dinner and I had a lot of fun. Afterwards, I went over to the Chicago Riverwalk and enjoyed walking down the river to the lake while looking up at the spectacular skyline. Once I got back to the hotel, I immediately passed out from being so tired.
Friday morning, we were on the buses at 7:00 AM, to head over to a local football field to practice the show for the game. It was early and very cold, so I came off of the bus half-awake and bundled up in my jock jacket and sweats. I do enjoy the cold weather though – I would much rather be too cold than too hot. After practice, we got back on the buses and headed into the city for our performance at Navy Pier. The performance went very well and there was a great crowd to watch us. After getting our uniforms and instruments put away, the trombones headed off to see the city.
We stopped at Billy Goat Tavern, which was the inspiration for this famous Saturday Night Live sketch. The burger was really good and it was cool to go to such an iconic restaurant. Afterwards, we headed to the river, where we went on an architecture boat tour of the city of Chicago. The boat went up and down the river while a guide explained the history behind a lot of the famous buildings in Chicago. One of the most impressive things to me about Chicago is its skyline. There are so many different skyscrapers, and they all cover a wide variety of architectural styles, but when looking at the Chicago skyline as a whole, they all fit together to make a spectacular backdrop. I was upset that I did not have a chance to make it to the top of the Willis Tower, but I know how much I will want to come back to Chicago someday and that will be on the top of my list of things to do.
We had a rally that night at the Westin Hotel and it was awesome getting to see all the Trojan fans that were pumped for the football game. Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel and got ready for GAMEDAY.
We left our hotel at 7:00 AM on Saturday morning for South Bend, IN. When we got there, we had band practice at a nearby football field to run the show one last time before the game. Afterwards, we had a big meal before the game, and headed to the university. We got dressed, warmed up, and marched over to the stadium. On our march over, we ran into Will Ferrell, who had come by to say hi to the band and give us high-fives! It was awesome getting to see him. We got into the stadium and performed our pregame show. I always like hearing all the “boos” in the crowd – it gets me fired up! We watched the football game from right on the field, because there was not enough room in the stands to fit the band. I actually enjoy better because you feel as though you are so much closer to the action. Unfortunately, victory was just out of our grasp, but the band performed really well in both the pregame show and the halftime show. I think it’s funny that we were actually getting a lot of applause from Notre Dame fans. We are just too good…
Once I got back to the hotel that night around 2:30 AM, I crashed. I was exhausted and needed to sleep to start studying for all my exams the following week. We flew back on Sunday afternoon, and finally got home that night. It was an amazing trip, and I love looking through all the pictures I took that remind me of the great memories I made.