News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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August 9, 2012

Liquid Band Aid: Community support flows for 150 New Jersey-based musicians practicing in boil-order stricken Brazil

Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps competing in world championships in Indy

BRAZIL — The sound of water jugs gurgling was music to which the marching band could play.

A convoy of buses lined the parking lot of North Clay Middle School on Wednesday, where members of the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps practiced for this weekend’s championships in Indianapolis. The brown withered grass they found on the soccer fields was expected, members said. But a boil order on Brazil’s water supply threatened to sizzle their hopes for rehearsal amid temperatures in the upper 90s.

Executive director Bob Jacobs said the boil order was a real surprise.

“Even a blind man can tell when the sun is shining, and it was pretty crunchy out there,” he chuckled inside the team’s air-conditioned RV.

In the end though, community support from Wabash Valley groups came gushing through, and the New Jersey-based group begins competition in Lucas Oil Stadium today.

Jacobs explained the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps boasts about 150 marching musicians between the ages of 14 and 21. Drawing from the 400-mile radius surrounding Philadelphia, it hosts auditions in the winter for the summer touring season, which contains more than 15 events ranging from parades to competitions. This weekend, the group competes in the Drum Corps International World Championships, and has been using the North Clay Middle School facilities as its rehearsal spot since Monday.

The team soon realized they require between 750 and 1,000 gallons of water per day, as musicians march about for hours in the sun, and meals are cooked at the site by parents and supporters. Boiling that volume of water was simply impossible given the circumstances, he said.

“We serve 800 to 1,000 meals a day off our food trucks,” Jacobs pointed out, adding parents of his musicians were calling in with concerns.

Dale Anderson, spokesman for the Wabash Valley’s American Red Cross Chapter, said the lack of water posed an immediate problem, and one which his agency could help resolve.

“It’s sort of an extraordinary circumstance. When you’re responsible for that many kids, you definitely need water,” he said, adding the members are about 800 miles from home and couldn’t just call their families for an extra jug.

Anderson called Angel Falls Water, a water bottling company in Clay City which uses a reverse osmosis process to purify public water. Lori Miller, who owns the company with her husband Rob, said their team had trucks loaded full of containers ranging in size from 20 ounces to 5 gallons.

“It was a fairly good sized order for as short of a notice as it was,” she laughed. “But we got it together at the last minute.”

Anderson said the marching band unloaded the trucks like “a little army of wheels,” passing jugs one to another in a line.

“It’s an amazing group. They’ve been on the road since June,” he said.

Wednesday evening, Drum Major Jon Lacy was among those drinking his share from a jug as the group rehearsed.

“It’s nothing new. We’ve certainly had to deal with our fair share of heat this year,” the 21-year-old said, remarking this season’s tour took the group as far west as Texas and all along the South.

A student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Lacy said the Clay County heat that afternoon was dry, which seemed better than if it were humid.

“But I remember this being a little greener last year when we were here,” he quipped.

The City of Brazil has been on a boil order since Monday, when a 12-inch water main broke in town. Personnel at the town’s water office said the boil order should be lifted no later than Friday.

For Jacobs, the week presented a “teachable moment,” as the students were told to consider that only in developed countries such as America is such an occurrence considered uncommon.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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