Band of Gold Story - 1977

posted Jul 11, 2012, 9:49 AM by Largo Gold   [ updated Aug 12, 2018, 9:52 AM by LBOG AA ]

1977 started the same as it had for the last several years with Band of Gold performances at the American Bowl on January 2 and the American Invitational horse jumping championship on March 19, both at Tampa Stadium. This would be the last year for these events, as they would be undergoing changes in 1978. As usual, all members of the Largo High instrumental music program participated in the Magnificent Sound of Gold in March. Band of Gold and Blue Band members performed their duties as the Pageantry Unit of the St. Petersburg Festival of States in April, appearing almost daily at various events. Interestingly, other local bands were starting to notice the publicity that the Largo Bands were receiving as the Pageantry Unit of the Festival. Letters to the Editor started to appear, complaining that there was a bias in favor of Largo. Festival Director Herb Melleney was always quick to respond, saying that only Largo came forward in 1970 when the Festival needed a unit that could perform music, wear patriotic costumes, and carry corresponding flags. Since the other bands did not offer their services at that time, they had no basis for complaint.

Fundraising became a focal point during 1977, and continued into 1978 as the next World Music Concourse in Holland was on the horizon. In addition, the band was traveling to regional events which were still somewhat costly, so every penny was watched. An interesting controversy developed in April when the Band of Gold refused to travel to Clearwater’s Fun ‘n Sun Festival without being reimbursed for travel expenses. This caused some hard feelings with the Festival’s management as well as the citizens of Clearwater. Eventually, the Largo Band Boosters agreed to foot the $800 bill for chartered buses to take the Band to the festival. In the meantime, new fundraising programs were developed. Pioneer Western Insurance sponsored a golf tournament at the Belleair Country Club as a benefit for the Band of Gold. A new walk-a-thon was started in which Band members not only walked, but they also played their instruments for six miles. The Band Boosters even got into the meat business, staging a truckload steak sale in May. Later that month, the Band of Gold continued their relationship with the Barbershop Music Society by sharing the billing in another well-received concert. The ultimate fundraiser occurred later in the year when the Band Boosters decided to build a house. The Gold Medal House, as it was called, was going to be built by supporters who were in the local construction industry. Materials were donated or supplied at cost, and labor was free. Profits would help fund the trip to Europe. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on December 3.

On June 10, the Band of Gold returned to Virginia Beach, not to compete,

but as the honor band. Band functions continued during the summer with a patriotic concert for July 4th festivities. Another band camp was held in late August at the Edgewater Beach Motel. This band camp was used to learn new music and field shows as usual, but it also provided an opportunity to start fine-tuning the World Show, which the Band was starting to perform.

As the 1977-78 school year started, the band continued to ramp up activities leading to the upcoming trip to Europe. On September 25, the Band of Gold and Blue Band performed pregame and halftime shows at the Vikings/Buccaneer game at Tampa Stadium. At that time, it was the largest crowd ever to attend a football game in Tampa.

On October 29, the Band of Gold traveled back to Valdosta, Georgia to compete in the Southern Open, and hoping to avenge the loss from a year earlier. Not only did they avenge the loss, but they also won the contest by a large ten point margin. Drum Major Jerry Patton had to settle for a tie for best Drum Major, but only because he and another Drum Major had achieved a perfect score.

Beside the annual Christmas concert, performed by the Golden Strings, the last big event for the Largo Music program was the Florida Tournament of Bands in St. Petersburg on December 10. This was the first year that the contest offered a concert competition, and the Band of Gold not only won that event, it also won the parade and field show events. The Band was starting to fire on all cylinders. It would need to be a well-oiled machine to succeed at the international level next year.