Two hundred students represented the Houston County School System at the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Band members from Houston County and Northside high schools played as part of a 3,000-plus member band for halftime of the game between the University of Wisconsin and Auburn University at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Jarrod Merriman, a senior from Houston County High, said his favorite part of his three-day trip was performing at halftime.
“It was a really awesome experience,” he said.
Merriman has played in band for six years and is a saxophone player.
He said he spoke to some of the Wisconsin band members before the game.
“They told me to perform the best I could. They were incredible,” said Merriman.
Northside High took 50 students and went down to Florida Dec. 28.
The students from Houston County High also spent Dec. 30 on a three-story yacht where they ate dinner. New Year’s Eve was spent performing in the Outback Bowl Parade in Ybor City and afterward, the students went to Busch Gardens in Tampa.
Northside students also went to Busch Gardens and participated in the parade.
Houston County High chartered four buses for its 155 band members who attended the trip, said band director Wally Shaw.
During the televised game, part the halftime show was broadcast, and members of the band were shown.
Students from 27 schools in the U.S. were in the mass band which performed songs from the Armed Forces and music from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
About 3,000 students from 14 states including New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota performed at halftime, said John Moretti of Brightspark Travel, which coordinated the trip for the students.