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Chi-Hi Visitation for Doug Greenhalgh family, 10/19/2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005, was a unique day in the history of Chippewa Falls. This was the evening when we all paid our respects to our Music Man: high school band director Doug Greenhalgh and his wife Therese and granddaughter Morgan. They all lost their lives in a tragic bus accident on the way back from marching band competition.

The visitation was in the Chi-Hi gym from 5-8pm. By 6:00 p.m., the line to get in snaked all the way around the outside of the school. It took well over an hour to make it into the building. The gymnasium was completely packed.

The orchestra played two sad-sounding songs as a tribute to "G", then the choir sang Amazing Grace and another song about "I am better because I knew you."

When the marching band started filing in, the place erupted into a sustained standing ovation. It went on for five minutes, as all 173 teen musicians lined up into their spots and stood at attention. They played the two songs that they used at state competition that was only four days ago -- but seems like an eternity ago.

The quality and emotion was overwhelming. They did an unbelievably fantastic job. The expression "There wasn't a dry eye in the house" is overused, but this time, I think every person there was weeping by the end. Not only for the pain of the loss, and sorrow for these kids, but because the music they created that night was just so unspeakably beautiful that any human could not keep from being swept away by it.

It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After their second song, they laid down their instruments and filed over to the caskets, which they surrounded in a semicircle. When they invited all Marching Cardinals alumni to join them on the gym floor, FIVE HUNDRED people made their way down through the crowded stands.

Once assembled, they put arms around each others' necks, swayed together and sang the song they sing after every performance:

As we stand here all together,
Pride fills all our hearts.
As we think about our friendships
Though some day we'll part.

Sound the trumpets, marching onward
To the beating drum.
All the good times we'll remember,
Forever Cardinal bound.

Starting out with new faces
Together we become
Chi-Hi's finest Marching Cardinals,
Achieving goals as one.

Sound the trumpets, marching onward
To the beating drum.
All the good times we'll remember,
Forever Cardinal bound.

Below are a few photos I took to try to capture the moment, for those whose hearts ache but couldn't be with us tonight. Chippewa Falls will never be the same.

- Tom Arneberg (toma@arneberg.com)

(31 images in this set)

(31 images in this set)


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