Paula Hyman will be contributing columns to each Wednesday. Here's her fifth installment. You may be wondering if I went trick-or-treating this Halloween. Umm, well if by trick-or-treating you mean worked a marching band show, then yes: I was trick-or-treating all weekend long. This past weekend was filled with band shows, just like any other during the fall here at the USSBA. The office staff was split up into groups -- each group having two specific shows that they were assigned to run.

Paula Hyman (center) with Dean Westman (right) and Jon Bilby, in Bristol, R.I., on Paula's birthday (also a Cadets' free day). Dean was the Cadets' brass caption head and Jon the visual caption head.
I was a part of the Baltimore, Md./Union, N.J. team -- we are champions of course. We were scheduled to leave from the office at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday. After a late night at work on Friday, a few of us grabbed something to eat together, even though we knew we'd be waking up at 5:30 a.m. the next day. We were only out for about an hour so I got home around midnight. I was pretty tired but decided to check the mailbox before I headed inside. I figured it would probably be filled with bills and junk mail. I turned the handle and slowly opened the door to the box. To my amazement, there was a small package waiting for me. I sprinted upstairs with delight, entered my apartment and tore open the envelope like a rabid dog would -- well, I haven't actually seen a rabid dog open an envelope, but I'm pretty sure it would have opened it the same way I did. I knew exactly what was inside of it. Video clips and pictures from this past summer on a CD courtesy of the incredible Gordon Henderson. Gordon has been a part of our brass staff for the past two years. He has a ridiculous digital camera that he uses during the summer to take countless video clips and pictures of us. He was nice enough to send all of that stuff out to me for my viewing pleasure. Watching that definitely brought back a ton of memories -- memories that were of course still fresh in my mind, but seeing all of that stuff brought them back to life. I was cry-laughing during the clips from our West Chester stage show. These kids were going insane -- it was by far the best night of my life. (Cry-laughing is when you laugh and cry at the same time because something is so awesome.) I stayed up for a couple of more hours watching that stuff and crawled into bed around 2 a.m. I woke up at 6:10 and was at the office a little before 6:30. Pretty amazing, huh? Awaiting me was the Cadets bus that we would be driving around in all weekend long. Yep, that's right, we drove down there in a Cadets bus. That was the second time I've done that this season. It's hard to be on the bus without thinking about the summer but it's also cool to be back on it. This bus did not smell, and nothing fell on my head from the overhead compartment while I was sleeping, so that was a little weird to get used to. I eventually felt right at home, passing out immediately in the aisle, sleeping bag and all. I woke up to myself sliding all the way down the aisle as the bus stopped short at a light. It was fun -- kind of like a slip n' slide without water. The floor on the bus during tour is so gross that it is impossible to slide anything on it. There are always a bunch random things and or people in the aisle that kind of help prohibit sliding around. Good stuff. We arrived at Ravens Stadium around 9 a.m. The groundskeepers didn't put high school hashes down on their field, so I got to round up a makeshift field lining crew and we did it ourselves. We used only the finest of equipment -- masking tape and a rope that has caked up field paint all over it. It was awesome. After all that stuff, I and a couple of others set up the merchandise tables and got to work. I pretty much sold stuff from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. It was a good time and it actually went by pretty quickly. I got to talk to Fred a little bit again. Fred marched baritone with Garfield in 1983 -- I met him when I was greeting people at our souvie trailer in Orlando this past summer. It was awesome to listen to him talk about how much marching Garfield meant to him and that every time he sees us march onto the field in our block, he looks at where his spot used to be and says "That used to be me out there." He pretty much told me to take everything in during the summer and to never take anything for granted. I also met someone who marched in 1988. I saw four of my friends that I marched with as well so it was a pretty awesome night. By the time we got out of the stadium it was a little after midnight. We were then on our way to New Jersey to sleep in a hotel for about three hours. I of course slept in the aisle again and almost spent the night on there but I figured I might as well use the room if we payed for it. The room I was in was actually a suite. Don't get too excited -- it wasn't an incredibly huge room, but it had sort of a living room and then a bed. I didn't make it past the couch. I had an incredible three hours of sleep, got ready, and went down stairs for a fine continental breakfast before getting back on the bus. I had corn pops and a bagel with cream cheese -- a breakfast of champions. We were a little early so we stopped at "Quik Check." I have never been to one of these, but it's basically like a 7-11 or a Wawa. They have the most incredible cookies and cream-flavored coffee cappuccino stuff there. Oh my, it was sensational. I pretty much did the same stuff I did on Sunday as I did on Saturday. There were a ton of bands at this show as well. We were there from about 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. I also got to see a handful more of my Cadets friends. I miss everyone so much, it's crazy. Every time we see each other we pick up right where we left off -- it's never awkward. Unlike that friend from High School that you see and don't have anything to talk about except "Hi, how are things?" etc. I can't wait for camps to start up again, but that's a whole other story. I did have a great time working these shows, though. Lots of kids would talk to me about drum corps over at the souvie booth so that was awesome. It seems like all the kids who are thinking about trying out don't want to because they are afraid. They all say, "I don't think I could ever make it ... " I'd tell them of course you don't think so -- no one ever walks in saying "I'm the best in the world wahahahhaah! Give me a spot RIGHT NOW!" Everyone has a mixed feeling of nervousness and excitement. So if you're reading this and are thinking about trying out for the Cadets or any drum corps, you need to get to that camp. I'm sure you've heard this a million times but it still stands true -- you'll never know if you don't try, and you have absolutely nothing to lose. You'll make new friends just from one weekend and it's an awesome experience wherever you go to try out. But yeah, it was awesome seeing how excited these kids would get just talking about drum corps. It was a rewarding experience being able to talk to so many. I also enjoyed watching all the kids get so pumped up about performing. Seeing a kids face after they had the best show of their season was much better than trick-or-treating ever could be. Past columns by Paula Hyman: What's a free day? Rest stop or heaven? The Move to Allentown Welcome back to the real world
Paula Hyman is a fourth-year member of the Cadets where she is the mellophone section leader. She is 20 years old and currently single. Originally from South Florida, Paula recently made the move to Allentown, Pa., to work for YEA!, the umbrella organization of the Cadets, Crossmen and the U.S. Scholastic Band Association. She ages out in 2006.