Bellefontaine High School Band Visits, Plays For MMH Residents

by Austin Arnold   On Thursday, July 20, a lasting memory was made not only for a handful of residents at Mennonite Memorial Home (MMH), but also for over 100 high school students visiting from Bellefontaine, OH.
   The Bellefontaine High School marching band, dubbed “The Pride of the Tribe,” were one of the musical units camping at Bluffton University (BU) last week. According to the Chieftains’ band director, Jeremy Karg, they were approached by MMH resident John Murray who made his way across Elm Street on Wednesday during one of the band’s rehearsals on the BU’s practice football field. While watching the 115-member Bellefontaine band perform, Murray came up with an idea. He asked if the band would be willing to come play at MMH the following day, as he knew a number of other residents besides himself would enjoy listening to them play – even if just for a couple of numbers. Karg agreed, as long as it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t too miserably hot, as the heat index was projected to be near 100 degrees that day.
   While it was still hot out, some cloud cover in the early afternoon on Thursday made conditions tolerable, and the Bellefontaine band returned the favor and made good on their promise as they marched over to MMH’s front lawn. The Pride of the Tribe played their school’s fight song and a handful of other staples that can be heard around high school football stadiums on Friday nights across Ohio.
   The band then stopped for a water break (band chaperones literally carted over jug coolers from campus for the students), but rehydration amazingly wasn’t the focus when the music paused. Instead, and unprompted, the band members broke off into small groups and visited with the MMH residents who had made their way outside to listen to them play. Not only did the Chieftain band members strike up a chat with the residents in attendance, but they also requested to take pictures with them by the time they were finished with their respective conversations.
   Some of the students discovered that a couple of the residents were former band members and musicians, as well. One of those residents was Ray Shinaberry, who was not only an alto horn member of the Ohio State University Marching Band, but a former band director at Columbus Grove and Lima Perry. Another MMH resident, Lois Jean Andreas, made quite an impression on the flute section of the Bellefontaine band, as they learned she too once played the flute.
   After 10 minutes or so of visiting, it was time for the Chieftain band to head back to Bluffton’s campus. However, they did not leave MMH unceremoniously. The band lined up properly and entered into its standard “march cadence” as they left the neighboring elderly home facility.
   As the band prepared to leave, Murray exclaimed, “I’m glad they came over. I wish we could have a band play here every day.”