Washington, D.C. Tour 2012
Over spring break, the gentlemen of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club toured through the Washington, D.C. area and what a trip it was! A first for the New Men and a last for the seniors, this tour is one that no one will ever forget.
Beginning last Sunday, the Glee Club traveled up to Argos, Indiana for senior Steve Sanders’ home show. The gentlemen were greeted by about five hundred guests at lunch, and as Steve put it, “The entire town of Argos will be at this show.” Sure enough, the house was packed and the tickets sold out for a truly touching performance. Sanders was able to share his original arrangement of the Indiana State Poem with his home town, as well as lavaliere his mother with another original piece that left everyone emotional. A great start to the tour, the Glee Club packed up in the late afternoon and headed onto the buses for a short drive over to Lima, Ohio (which happens to be the town featured on the TV show Glee, how ironic!) where we stayed in the Wingate Hotel.
After a delicious continental breakfast and early rise, the gentlemen boarded the bus for the longest day of the trip: the drive. Wearing comfortable clothing, the men prepped for a twelve hour day on the road. But most of this time was spent napping, studying or watching the 007 series! A day of goofiness, fun and bonding, the gentlemen exited the bus in La Plata, Maryland where they met up with their homestays.
The next morning, the Glee Club was dropped off at the Waldorf Senior Center where they performed a short show for the guests of the center. The crowd was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day early, so everyone was festively dressed in green and shared a very Irish meal with the Glee Club! The gentlemen then packed up and reassembled at New Life Church where they would be performing that evening. Met by more than 140 students from different schools, the Glee Club gave a performance that brought them to their feet and had a quick Q&A session with them after the show. After a wonderful meal, the church was packed for senior Billy Thiedeman’s hometown performance. Several of the families the Glee Club was staying with saw the show and could not say enough great things about it when they got home.
On Wednesday, everyone said goodbye to their homestays as the Glee Club set off for Manassas, Virginia. After taking a tour of the Civil War battlegrounds, the gentlemen had a convocation at Seton Academy School and a performance later that night at John Paul the Great School. That night, the Glee Club departed to new homestays and prepared for the busiest day of the tour.
Thursday morning, the Glee Club traveled to the Pentagon. After spending time moving through security and acquiring escorts, the group made their way over to the chapel at the site of the 9/11 crash. After leading the group in prayer, director Bill Griffel led the men in a very touching performance of “It Is Well with My Soul.” The gentlemen enjoyed lunch in the Pentagon and afterwards, performed in the courtyard at the center of the building. The experience was truly surreal and was one of many memorable moments of that day. That afternoon, the Glee Club made it into the heart of D. C. and over to the Dirksen Senate Building. There, they were greeted by Senator Lugar and his staff. After a few songs and a presentation of a signed portrait of the group, Lugar wanted to shake everyone’s hand as they exited his office. That evening, the Glee Club arrived at the Grand Hyatt Hotel with a performance for the Purdue Alumni Club, where some former Glee Clubbers and Purduettes joined the audience.
The day concluded as the gentlemen traveled through several memorials around D.C. Once at the Lincoln Memorial, the group assembled on the stairs in front of the structure to sing just a few patriotic tunes. Goosebumps ran up and down the group as they looked off at the Washington Monument and as Bill looked up into Lincoln’s statue. A woman approached the group afterwards and shared that she had been paying homage to her father at one of the memorials on the anniversary of his passing. She shared how truly touched she was to hear us sing at that moment on that very day; what an unforgettable experience that shows the true power of what music can do. That night, the group made their way to the 4-H Youth Conference Center and quickly went to sleep.
The last day on tour started with some time to explore Washington, D. C. Several gentlemen went to the Smithsonian museums to visit the many exhibits. The final destination was in Virginia, where the Glee Club made a return appearance to Sterling United Methodist Church. The Glee Club said their goodbyes, loaded onto the buses and drove through the night to make it back to West Lafayette early Saturday Morning.
Thank you to everyone who visited us on our tour. The experience was truly unforgettable.