The Penn-Trafford High School marching band participated in the Bands of America Regional Championship competition at Gateway High School on Sept. 22.
The weather map on our phones made it look like we had until about 8 p.m. before it would start to rain, and our performance time was 7:45. The radar was off by about 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
Just as the announcer said, "Performing their show titled 'Under a Darkened Sky' ..." the skies opened up and absolutely poured on the band (and the audience). Along with the rain came winds that made the yard markers slide around the field like they were filled with feathers.
It was at that point that you could sense that something special was about to happen and that the band and the audience had an unspoken agreement of "We are all in this together. Here we go!"
The students never flinched. They maintained their composure and performed with the energy, emotion and determination that you would expect them to have. They were truly great! After supporting the band throughout the entire show, the amazing audience gave them a standing ovation.
In order to get the students under cover quickly, the Bands of America staff had the students march directly behind the stadium, as it was the shortest distance to our buses. As the students went up the hill, the audience took cover outside the stadium.
What followed was like a scene from a movie. The audience members formed an impromptu tunnel and clapped and cheered as the students marched through them to get to the buses that would take them back to Harrison City. There weren't many dry eyes at that point, and not only because of the rain.
Afterward, the students went back into the stadium to watch the other finalist bands, and it started raining again, with some hail this time. We went to the concession stand to order 140 cups of hot chocolate for the band.
An older gentleman in a blue and gold hat looked at me and asked, "Are you their director?" I told him that I was. He then offered to pay for the band's hot chocolate. I let him know that I appreciated the offer, but that the band funds were going to cover it.
Before I even got the sentence out of my mouth, he reached into his wallet and handed me $100 and told me to use it. When I asked for his name, he replied, "The only thing that I need you to do is to tell your students that they deserve everything that they get," and then he walked away.
It was an incredible gesture of kindness. I will never forget his hand shaking as he handed me his gift for our students, as he was freezing, too, having sat through a band's performance for which he may or may not have had a direct rooting interest.
Our band would like to thank the gentleman who bought the members hot chocolate on that cold, rainy night in Monroeville. I wish I knew his name and could have the opportunity to introduce him to our students, so that they could thank him personally. It is reassuring that there are still kind, nice people like this gentleman in our world.
Even wearing a sweater, I was very cold one recent day when the highs were in the mid-50s. Our apartment building has yet to turn on the heat.
Anyway, I'd been in the lobby telling a group of tenants how cold I was. Apparently taking pity on me, one went out and bought me an electric heater. The doorman just brought it up. When I questioned him, he said the donor wished to remain anonymous.
It's not a matter of money. But without a car and using a walker, it would have been difficult for me to obtain one. I just want to thank whomever went to the trouble to warm my heart.
Has someone done you right? Send your Random Act of Kindness to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. First Published October 4, 2012 4:15 AM