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Fallbrook High Marching Warriors score new uniforms


Last updated 12/15/2017 at Noon

Members of the Fallbrook High School Marching Warriors Band perform in their new uniforms while leading off the 36th annual Fallbrook Christmas Parade Dec. 2. Shane Gibson photo

Strike up the band – the Fallbrook High School Marching Warriors have new uniforms.

Less than four months after being named the new band director at Fallbrook High, Derek Lee achieved his first stated major goal: replacing the band's 20-year-old uniforms.

Lee was horrified upon learning the band hadn't had new uniforms since 1997 and immediately went on the offensive, spreading the word about the need for donations to correct the sad situation.

One of Fallbrook's most noted nonprofits, the Angel Society, responded with a donation of $10,000. Since new band uniforms cost $300 to $400 each and Lee was looking to buy 100 of them, the Angel Society's donation figured to be a good down payment on a new set of duds.

Lee, however, made that $10,000 do so much more. While contacting band uniform manufacturers, Lee received a suggestion that he reach out to professional drum corps, major league competition marching bands that turnover their uniforms on a regular basis.

"So I started researching all the drum corps that have our similar color schemes," said Lee. "One that I reached out to, the Boston Crusaders, emailed me back within two hours of my email and completely agreed that they would help us out."

When asked what the school was willing to pay for the gently-used uniforms, Lee played his poker hand like a pro.

"I told them that we roughly have $10,000," said Lee. "They said, 'cool, we’ll do the full 150 for the $10,000.' And that’s how it happened."

It was the bargain of all bargains – 150 uniforms, cleaned and ready to use, with shipping from Boston included.

“It’s an absolute steal for the cost," said Lee. "What should have cost roughly close to $45,000 for the entire set, came to us for $10,000 because that awesome organization, the Boston Crusaders, agreed to help us out."

Lee said the Crusaders used the uniforms the Warriors purchased for two seasons before putting them away in a warehouse.

"This particular uniform was used for two years but that’s a total of like eight months of usage, which is not much," said Lee. "These are virtually brand new. These kids are the second group of people to ever really wear these."

Lee was looking for uniforms featuring black, red and white and he noticed the Crusaders' uniforms from two years ago fit the bill.

"The ones we received are the ones that I requested," said Lee. "I was happy they still had the full set because usually they sell them off or donate them to other organizations or return them back to the uniform companies to be recycled."

The uniforms arrived at Fallbrook High School on two giant pallets the day before Thanksgiving, and FHS band booster president Erika Phipps came up with the idea of surprising band members by doing "a huge reveal" of the new uniforms at the Winter Concert Nov. 30.

Lee agreed with the plan, although it required great restraint on his part.

"It was really, really rough trying to keep that secret from them because A, I wanted to tell them, and B, we kind of had the uniforms hidden in plain sight in our trailer where we keep our other uniforms," said Lee. "So it was a game of trying to keep students away from that trailer."

Phipps arranged for some former FHS drum majors to march on stage wearing the new uniforms at the conclusion of the band's Winter Concert performance. The drum majors were joined by Fallbrook Union High School superintendent Dr. Hugo Pedroza, who also donned a uniform.

"They marched on stage with precision, saluted the band in drum major fashion, turned to the crowd and saluted all of the parents and the Angel Society," said Phipps, who had invited Angel Society members to the concert so they could be part of the surprise. "It was a very moving and emotional time and I'm so happy with the way it turned out. The kids were in awe."

"They (band members) were completely speechless because when the people came out, they had no idea what really was happening," said Lee. "Then one of our senior flute players kind of broke the silence with, 'Oh my God.' It was really awesome."

To the surprise of current Fallbrook High School band members (in the back) who had just finished their Winter Concert, former FHS drum majors, left to right, Andrew Dominguez (class of 2016), Adam Zimmerman (2015), Alex Meredith (marching band tech) and Katelan Lewis (2016) model the Marching Warriors' new uniforms. Erika Phipps photo

The band performed in the new uniforms for the first time Dec. 2 when it lead off the Fallbrook Christmas Parade. The group looked sharp and sounded great.

"These kids will be set for a good long while with these new uniforms," said Lee.

The timing of the arrival of the uniforms made for a great start to the holiday season for the band.

"I told the kids it was their Christmas present and don't expect anything else from me," quipped Lee.


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