Prop Parents: Behind the scenes of the Vandegrift Band


Sarah McKelvy

A team of prop parents work on various repairs past sunset. During the marching show these glowing poles light up and change color simultaneously.

Sarah McKelvy, Staff Reporter

As the sun sets on the concrete lot, a halo of blue light can be seen glowing at the back of the field. A dedicated team of parents work tirelessly into the late hours of the night to ensure the show’s props are in peak condition.

When I was in band in high school, my parents were very involved and I think an important part of being a parent is being involved,” prop crew member Tom Jackson said. “When the opportunity arose when the band needed help, I felt obligated.

In past years, the Vandegrift band has been known for presenting classical shows composed of music pieces from Beethoven, and other famous composers. This year however, the trend was broken.

“It’s the most advanced show we’ve had, technology wise, to date with all the light up props,” crew member John Martin said. “We have over 50 items on the field that successfully light up simultaneously.” 

A huge part of this technological show, Into the Grid, is the light up props that change colors throughout the production. These aren’t the only things that glow on the field though: The Vision Dance Company also dances with handheld light up poles.

“It was a challenge figuring out how to control the props wirelessly because they are on a football field so you can’t have wires,” Lonnie Fink, prop crew captain said. “Wi-fi in the stadium also sucks so our solution for that was DMX because it is used in concerts a lot so it’s well established.” 

After practice, when students exit the field, the prop parents often stay behind making repairs and constructing whole new props to ensure they are ready for use the following day.

“Normally we stay till about 8pm or whenever the sun goes down,” Nick James, prop crew member said. “Sometimes we come in early on Saturday mornings too” 

The gasps of awe and excited murmurs from the audience when the lights switch colors or the dancers cut through the band with light up props truly shows the appreciation the community has for this team.

Seeing the kids talk about the props and having other band parents mention them, it’s nice to see that, especially a former band student,” Jose (Joey) Ramirez, technology specialist said. “I understand it adds so much to the show and makes it such a special experience.”