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Oakdale Bands Together
12-19 OAK FB State Band
Members of the Oakdale High marching band lift up their cowboy hats just seconds after a melodious rendition of Hot, Hot, Hot during halftime of the state bowl championship football game on Saturday in Carson. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

The miracle of social networking provided the platform for a miracle for the Oakdale High marching band this past week.

After crunching the numbers on the expense of travel and lodging on Monday, Dec. 10, OHS Athletic Director Dave Bacigalupi and music director Ross McGinnis discovered that a trip to Southern California and the state championship football game at the Home Depot Center in Carson was simply not in the cards for the Oakdale band.

But the third-year maestro had an ace up his sleeve.

McGinnis broke the news just before dinner by posting on the Oakdale Music Boosters group page on Facebook at 5:03 p.m. Two chicken tacos, around 50 text messages and three hours later, McGinnis was given verbal commitments of donated funds that allowed the band to travel 330 miles one way to promote Oakdale football in the biggest game in school history.

Just 24 hours after his post, McGinnis had received checks from the Oakdale Sports Boosters Club, the California Interscholastic Federation, the Oakdale Music Boosters and members of the community. He booked the transportation and lodging within 48 hours of the post and scrambled to assemble his high school students and a collection of eighth graders for an entertaining rendition of “Hot, Hot, Hot” during halftime of the championship game that was featured during the live broadcast across the state.

“We could not have done it on our own,” McGinnis said on Monday. “I have nothing but thanks for everybody.

“Until we go back to state, it will be a once in a lifetime experience.”

The Oakdale band well outnumbered a collection of performers representing Oakdale’s opponent (Serra of Gardena) and played a role in Oakdale’s obvious advantage in attendance, despite Serra sporting a campus located just six minutes from The Home Depot Center.

McGinnis didn’t expect that.

“(Serra) had to travel a mile for every hour it took us to get there, but we still had the place packed,” McGinnis said. “I am still fairly new to this, but I am learning that is just the Oakdale way.”

The Oakdale band was fresh off special honors at the Tournament of Champions band competition at Lincoln of Stockton in November, where Oakdale took first in Marching Band and Color Guard divisions amongst a hoard of bands from across the state.

The band played the national anthem at both the Sac-Joaquin Section and NorCal Regional Championship games and sent 50 students to represent Oakdale at state. In Carson, the band ignited the animated Oakdale crowd with repeated performances to celebrate the team. They played to the final seconds of regulation and even entertained fans with additional musical numbers in the parking lot.

Their support didn’t go unrecognized by the Oakdale football program.

“The coolest thing was seeing coach (Trent Merzon) and his wife (Spring Merzon) and their two kids (Morgan and Mickey) waiting for us when the bus came back to Oakdale,” McGinnis said. “He acknowledged our contribution to the show and said we were a family.

“Anybody else would want to go home and rest after that trip, but his family stuck around and waited for the band to come home. As a band director, that kind of support is unheard of.”