KEYPORT — Seventy-six band members marched down the country lane, with kids and dogs and curious folks following along right behind.
It could have been a scene out of “The Music Man” musical if it hadn’t been for all of the bystanders shooting videos and pictures with their smart phones.
It was the evening of May 18, a fine, soft day. The place was Virginia Beach Road, a narrow one lane strip of asphalt that dead-ends on a spit of land overlooking Liberty Bay. And the two busloads of musicians were the members of the Central Kitsap High School marching band, resplendent in their black, white and orange uniforms, complete with tall black feather plumes on their shako helmets.
They were there to continue what might be called “The Tradition.”
“Community bands used to play for visiting dignitaries. If someone was going through a patch of hard times, they’d go to their house and serenade them,” band director Michael Woods explained. “They were part of the community. We’re trying to rebuild that tradition.”
The Tradition started 11 years ago, when Woods led the band to the home of the then-vice principal of CKHS who was undergoing chemotherapy. Nine years ago when the previous principal retired, they marched to his home and gave him a musical send-off.
This time, the person being serenaded was outgoing CKHS principal Stephen Coons. Next year, Coons will be working part-time in the district, helping lead construction of the new CKHS high school and assuming the responsiblities of district athletic director.
“I’ve been part of this before, but from the other end,” said Coons as he and his wife listened to the band performing in their driveway. ”It’s one of those things where you know it’s coming, but you don’t know when, and you just hope you don’t get caught in your underwear,” he said with a grin.
To share the moment with the rest of Liberty Bay, Coons invited the band to go out back and perform on their pier. In short order, nearby kayakers and power boaters were enjoying an impromptu performance of the CKHS fight song and other marching tunes.
Then the band marched back onto dry land and back to their busses. An appreciative Coons marched most of the way back with them, seemingly reluctant to give up the moment.
Afterwards, as the band members shed their shakos, packed their plumes and prepared to get back on the buses, drum major Jonathan Madamba talked about the march.
“It was tiring, but a whole lot of fun,” said Madamba, who strutted the whole way out in front of the band, signalling directions with his baton and whistle. “It’s an honor to be in front of this band and represent the school,” said the senior. “[Mr. Coons] has been the principal for my whole high school career. It was a fitting send off for him.”
Coons had worked at CKHS for 17 years. He started as a teacher, became assistant principal, and for the past nine years was principal. He will be succeeded by co-principals Gail Danner, a nine-year veteran at CKHS, and Craig Johnson, an Olympia High School alum. Currently, Danner and Johnson are the school’s vice principals, according to the CKHS website.