wBy Damon Brown
Over the years, show choirs have adopted unusual names and traditions to stand out from the crowd and add character to this colorful world of high school entertainment--here are just a few!
Creative namesThe "All-Name Hall Of Fame" spans across the country. Whether it's Hoopston Middle School's "Cornjerker Connection," Sauk Prairie's "Yet To Be Named," or Findlay First Edition's band "The Boingers," the names are fun, unique, and give schools an identity long before they show up on competition day. Named after a hardware store spray that allows wrenches to properly do their work with ease, West Delaware cleverly named their ensemble WD-Forte.
One of the more unusual names was derived from a famous Broadway musical that was popular when a Nebraska school went shopping for their name. Omaha Westside's "Amazing Technicolor Showchoir," now known commonly as ATSC, has become a group synonymous with their name, doing shows that are often filled with color, high-energy, and tremendous entertainment value.
Omaha Westside's "Amazing Technicolor Showchoir 2016 Prelims
Banana jacketsBesides fun and creative names, some groups are identified by the spirit wear that accompanies them everywhere they go. Perhaps the greatest example of this would be Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School and their infamous "banana jackets."
Happiness, Inc. at the 2016 Show Choir National Finals
Storm Ziegler, the award-winning director of Kennedy's group, "Happiness Incorporated," explained the history of the bright yellow wind-breakers that have adorned each member since 1973.
"Jim Kimmel was the director back then, and he was looking for a way to raise team spirit like the University of Nebraska's football program did with spirit wear," Ziegler said. "He went in search of inexpensive green jackets, but all Woolworth's had were these bright yellow ones."
He decided to go with them, use green lettering, and the legendary banana jackets were born! Forty-three years later, every Happiness member receives one and signs a behavioral contract at a special ceremony each August during summer camp.
Traditions and ritualsTraditions come in other forms, though, including some pretty bizarre and hilarious rituals. From the mythical "Brea Juice" that gives the performers at Brea Olinda their extraordinary energy in performances, to a group that performs "the Bartman" dance before each show, to the Legend of Lois at LaCrosse Logan.
Brea Olinda HS's Masquerade
According to Quinton Graves, of Logan's "Class Act" the Legend of Lois is a beloved tradition. "It was a picture of a girl with huge 80s hair we found in the basement of our school," Graves said. "The only thing written on the photo was the name 'Lois.'" The group now honors her before every competition by bowing to her, "and she even has her own reserved seat in the audience!"
But no tradition is as colorful, silly, and strangely wonderful as the one described by Mike Trubshaw of Naperville North High School.
Naperville High School's Entourage
"After every competition, everybody gets in pajamas, and before we leave town, we stop at a grocery store, and over 100 kids are going through the store shopping in their PJs," Trubshaw said. "Everybody running up and down the aisles grabbing food, drinks, and whatever else they can pay for! It's hilarious to watch your friends carry their baskets of stuff onto the bus. Plus, I'm sure it's good for business!"
In a show choir universe filled with creative people with wild imaginations, there are bound to be a lot of fun traditions. Whether it's serving new members green bean baby food as their "initiation" to the group, or directors that color their hair purple, or jump fully-clothed into a swimming pool if a group wins a competition, the sky's the limit! Just keep it safe, keep it silly, keep it creative… and keep it FUN!