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Band uniforms are 30 years old | MIHS band raising money for new look

Freshman members of the Mercer Island High School marching band Peter Clark, left, and Brent Tsang model the current and new uniform designs, respectively. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Freshman members of the Mercer Island High School marching band Peter Clark, left, and Brent Tsang model the current and new uniform designs, respectively.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The last time when the Mercer Island High School Marching Band had new uniforms was during the Carter administration. Islander musicians pulled on their new duds in the fall days of 1978, just weeks after the film, “Saturday Night Fever,” was released. In the world outside the Island, the Shah of Iran was still in power, eight-track tape players were playing the hits and, ironically, the nation was suffering a major energy crisis.

Since then, the all-wool marching band uniforms have been in constant use, each year requiring sleeves and hems to be brought up or down, buttons re-sewn and zippers replaced. They have been dry-cleaned many times. Parents and volunteers report that safety pins and duct tape are in regular use before game time and performances. Just as the band has grown in size, student bodies have become larger, requiring even more adjustments to the uniforms. Over the years, even new headgear has been needed to accommodate the larger heads (and presumably brains) of Islander youth.

The biggest blow to the uniforms, despite being carefully counted and stored each year by parent volunteers, was the band’s appearance in the January 2006 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. On parade day, it rained for the first time in 50 years. And did it rain. The Islander band endured many hours in the downpour, but the 275 wool outfits were soaked through. In the hours after the parade, chaperones armed with hair dryers tried to dry the clothes. But when the truck left for the 1,000-mile drive back to Mercer Island, it weighed several hundred pounds more than when it left the Island.

For more details and a YouTube video, go to www.mihsband.com.

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