The boys are home! Last night’s homecoming festivities were fantastic. They arrived around 5:15pm in Maple Grove after a day of travel from Monticello IA. The LOLCB “Welcome Wagon”, full of parents, friends, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and alumni, hooted and hollered at the boys’ return. With flowers in hand, the boys beamed from ear to ear. Charlie honked the horn several times to signal their arrival. He parked the bus in front of St. Joseph the Worker’s entrance, and the boys poured out to reunite with their eager and tearful parents. Every mother received a rose from their young gentleman, while dads, grandfathers, brothers, and all listened to their Choirboy’s adventures.
Dinner was served in the dining area of Aaron’s church. Parents and boys stood in line and continued chatting about the tour. A large spread of mexican-themed food was consumed. In the middle of dinner a sudden yell came from someone amongst the mass. Dance music started to play, and one by one, a flashmob of Choirboy parents jigged their way on stage. As the music played and the brave few danced, more and more parents joined in. By the middle of the song, the stage was full of parents, dancing in celebration of their boy’s return.
Dinner was almost over when Aaron and the staff stood in front of the stage to present LOLCB’s yearly certificates. Each boy’s name was called, including the amount of years they’d participated in the program. Our newbies: Sam Griepp, Cole Anderson, Keegan Wagner, Jack Bakke, Connor Vander Heyden, Gus Krueger, Tristan Wellman, Isaac Stokes, and Caleb Hall all received their first awards. Daniel Reed was the boy with the most years under his belt: 9 years. Later I heard he wanted to break the record with 11 years but his parents said, “No way, nine years is enough”.
The welcome home celebration in the dining area finalized but the evening wasn’t over. Technically the boys were still on tour and had jobs to do before the concert. Merchandise, risers, garment bags; all had to be done before the singers rehearsed and changed into their uniforms. The concert began at 7:30pm with a full audience; everyone was agog to see and hear the performance they all imagined while the boys were away. The boys walked in, chanting and chiming. The performance had begun. They were in their element and demonstrated their experience from being on the road. The first half went perfectly with Joey, Braeden, and Jake reading program notes. Evan got to show off his solo during “Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name”, and Joey accompanied Donovan and the choir for “Homeward Bound”. The fine soloists from “Go, Down Moses” sang with pride as they concluded the first half. Great job, Reece, Braeden, Tristan C, and Luke!
At intermission, the choir and audience enjoyed a slideshow of tour moments, which featured all eight graduates of 2016: Daniel, Ethan, Evan, Joey, Nick, Tristan W., Tristan C., and William.
“Singabahambayo” initiated the second half of the concert. Ben read more program notes and Nick sing a stellar solo for “Minnesota Morning”. During the Q&A part of the concert, there were no Q&A’s because most of people in the audience knew most of the A’s (and really had no Q’s). Instead, Aaron took time to thank everyone for their support, love, and trust. He also acknowledged the untiring efforts of the LOLCB staff, including the hard-working and humorously sarcastic Associate Director Corinne Olinger. She graciously did all things on the home front while the rest were on the road. The Homecoming Concert ended with the famous “Thank You Very Much”. The audience stood and applauded until Aaron acquiesced to conduct an encore. With a baton cleverly hidden in his jacket, Luke stole the show by replacing Aaron for the final “Z” of “The Alphabet Song”. LOLCB’s concert choir concluded their 2016 Homecoming concert! Families and friends cheered. Boys smiled.
The evening continued with a recognition of the 2016 Graduates and their families; and ended with the much anticipated End of Tour Awards ceremony. Donovan won the Most Musical Award, and Nick received the Most Improved Award. The Choirboy of the Year Award was given to…”drum roll, please”…Mr. Ethan Rud. He was so surprised when Aaron handed him the trophy. Both Joey and William congratulated him.
Yet with all the excitement, tour still wasn’t done. The boys needed to change, and grab their luggage from the bus. There was no need to introduce them to their host families. They knew exactly who was taking them home…permanently. Tour 2016 was officially done.
Before I end the blog, I wanted to include a few things.
FINAL INTERVIEW! Head Chorister Joey and Assistant Head Chorister William were the final graduates to interview on tour. I wanted to save the best for last.
What is your happiest memory of tour? Funniest thing that happened on tour?
Joey- Receiving the Most Musical Award.
William – swimming in the ocean; stealing Joey’s shoes and socks in Dungeons & Dragons.
What’s it like being a Choirboy?
J – It’s fun with a couple stressful moments.
W – It’s pretty fun.
One word to describe you.
J – Emotional
W – Funny
What advice would you give to next year’s Choirboys?
J – Practice at home.
W – Don’t be dumb.
What do you like to do for fun on the bus?
J – Read
W – D&D
What do you love most about your tour partner?
J – He helps me keep another perspective.
W – He’s kind of mellow.
What’s the nicest thing you did for someone on tour?
J – Comforted a boy who was home sick.
W – Tried to make sure people felt included.
Name two things we should on tour next year?
J – More boy-driven activities, upgrade the game chest.
W – More free time, more group activities in pool.
Thanks, Joey and William. You two were amazing on tour. Both of you grew so much through your time with LOLCB. You demonstrated great leadership, and we are very PROUD of you!
How many of you have seen Jeff Foxworthy from his stand-up in “The Blue Collar Tour”? I piggy-backed off his bit “You know you’re a redneck when…”. I asked the boys to contribute the punchlines.
YOU KNOW YOU’RE A CHOIRBOY WHEN…
…you break out into a random musical number.
…you forget your iPod and stare out a window for 8 hours straight.
…you randomly correct people on “Yeah” or “Nope”.
…you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s no AC on bus, sticking cards to your chest.
…you’re in the middle of the city and you break out into 15 songs.
…your prefect confiscates your shoes.
…the bus starts to feel more comfortable during rest periods.
…you wake up on Saturday mornings.
…you start humming “Thank You Very Much” in the middle of school.
…you go on tour and at least one person is “broken”.
…you sing along to songs on the radio involuntarily.
…you start dancing crazy to a song.
…you get used to tour and really really love music.
…you go to choir and you’re a boy.
…your voice is higher than most people in your school.
…you start dancing on stage.
…you make random jokes that make no sense.
…three tours later you have a book full of written lines.
…you graduate at 14.
…all you’ve had is fast food and pancakes for 18 days.
…you have a Choirboy hat.
…you wiggle on stage like your Head Chorister.
…you travel with music, and you love music.
…your “Mom” is a guy, and your “Uncle” is a whale.
…you write a paragraph with the same amount of lines as your age.
…you hang out with “broken” people.
…you always talk to a “Tristan”.
FINAL THOUGHTS. Thank you all for reading this blog. It’s been my pleasure to write it every day for you. All of the boys are amazing, and I feel so happy to be part of their lives. If you’re a parent…thanks for letting us take care of your boys for 18 days. If you were a host family… thank you for taking care of our boys, and supporting our organization. If you hosted a concert…thank you for providing food, being generous in your givings, and giving the boys a venue to shine. For everyone else…you support a great organization. These boys learn about music, which we know is of extreme value to them and to their communities. They also learn to be great citizens of our world. It’s easy to be an ordinary boy: wild, dirty, energetic; but it’s a feat to be an ORDINARY BOY DOING EXTRAORDINARY THINGS. The organization of Land of Lakes Choirboys will continually expect the boys of our program to do things that are uncommon: demonstrate great MUSICal skill, be HONORable, and show genuine RESPECT.