Everyone rose bright and early on Tuesday as that was the day of our big performance on Ellis Island. People ask me a lot, "how do you get to play at all these exciting places?" to which the answer is, "I make contact, tell them about the Brazil Concert Band and, 'Wham', we are in!"
As simple as that sounds, we sometimes have to jump through hoops. Several hoops awaited us at Battery Park before boarding the ferryboat to Ellis Island.
For one thing, only good old cash could get us our tickets to ride the ferry. That involved getting a few people together to "loan" the band their Riddell cash cards. Secondly, one of the bomb-sniffing dogs did not show on time. First time we've ever been stiffed by a sniffer dog! We were to play at 11 a.m.; however, the National Park rangers did not get the message from Ellis Island that a sniffer was needed due to us having instruments which all would not fit into the x-ray scanners. So, our master negotiator, Melanie, worked it out with the ranger folks for everyone except the tuba players, euphonium, drummers, a couple of the trombones and one of the saxes, to go through the x-ray and board the ferry.
It seems the sniffer-dog had to rest between boats and since only one was present, the boats had to be gone over first. We can appreciate that as we were but only two blocks from the infamous 9/11 crime scene. In about sixty minutes, however, the ranger had good news. "Time to get sniffed!", he proclaimed. Jack Malone took photos of the process of these instruments being opened up and laid out in a line for the dog. A tuba with a dog's head stuffed down its bell is, indeed, a Kodak moment. From there, the rest of the band ferried across the Hudson to Ellis Island.
We had the band set up and ready to go under a huge white tent for which nobody in charge knew why it was there. We made good use of it as, sure enough, it began to rain big time. Bob Pell had a set of binoculars with him and we finally saw the familiar bright blue band caps on board a ferry signaling to us that the rest of the band was on its way. A splendid wooden director's podium had been left behind by some other band. We positioned it and built the band facing the main building with the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline behind us and the Statue of Liberty to the band's left. This was a very impressing setting.