Event to greet returning marching band cancelled

By Chris Shores

After losing its beloved band director late Thursday night and playing in front of 110,000 people at the “Big House” on Saturday, the UMass Marching Band is asking for a quiet return home.

A Facebook memorial group, formed by UMass Amherst, had announced yesterday plans to meet the band when it returned home Sunday, at 7:30 p.m.

“The buses carrying the band members are scheduled to arrive back on the UMass Amherst campus on Sunday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m. in front of the Fine Arts Center,” read the post. “The campus community and friends are encouraged to meet the buses and welcome back our students.”

An event was also created.

However, the band staff sent out a message this morning, asking that students and community members do not gather when the buses arrive.

“The good intentions of alumni, community, and family wanting to welcome the band back is overwhelming. However, after discussion amongst the band staff, we fear this event would not be the best way to service this group of kids,” said Kristen Elizabeth Seavey.

“Certainly if some parents were planning on coming, that’s understandable. But what the band is about to go through tomorrow emotionally is unfathomable. We fear that after a 12-hour bus ride home, when the children might actually be in some kind of place to move on and get to their classes on Monday, that being greeted with 1,000+ crying faces could be catastrophic.”

After some discussion on the event page, Seavey sent out another message, which suggested changing the location of the planned event.

“Instead of meeting the buses at Hagis Mall, we will gather at Old Chapel. This way, students that want our support can come to us, and those who need to get to their dorm and get to sleep will not be bothered. Also, as mentioned by some other alums, we can hopefully lure any media that is present AWAY from where the kids will be returning,” she said.

The Facebook memorial page has asked students to be sensitive to the band’s wishes.

“Please read the Note in the Notes tab about the band asking the community NOT to meet the buses on Sunday night and spread the word,” read a post this morning. “The band has decided that an outpouring from the community on Sunday night is not the best way for them to grieve. Please spread the word to news outlets and anyone you know who might have been planning to attend. Thank you!!”

Chancellor Robert Holub and Provost James V. Staros sent an email out to the campus community Saturday night, echoing the comments made on the memorial page.

“Today, our Marching Band played the ultimate tribute to their beloved leader, as they performed in Michigan, despite their grief. As they return to campus this weekend, at their request, we are asking the campus and community to forego any plans to gather and meet their buses. The Marching Band has indicated that they prefer privacy at this time, and we must respect their wishes,” they wrote.

This article was originally posted on MassLive.com.

Chris Shores can be reached at [email protected]