Every fall JMU (my alma mater) hosts a high school marching band competition called Parade of Champions (POC). Eddie and I have been going to help out with it for a number of years now. I typically help the Band Administrative Assistant out with the score sheets and Eddie helps with random things like lining up drum majors, going to Wal-mart for tape players, giving college football score updates to the announceer, etc.
Last year Henry was just a little dude so he hung out in his bouncy seat in the press box all day/night. This year my parents are coming up to help out with him, see the MRDs (JMU's Marching Royals Dukes), see the changes on campus, catch up with some people, etc. I am really looking forward to this trip because there are few places that make me as happy as the Shenandoah Valley and the JMU campus. Throw in the fact that it is fall and I can see the MRDs....awesome.
And in the spirit of my excitment I give you: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things I Love/Miss About Harrisonburg/JMU
1) Marching Royal Dukes (MRDs)
I can remember the first time I saw the MRDs. I was a freshman in high school and I KNEW from that moment that I wanted to go to JMU and march with them. Seeing a band of 300 with a ridiculously loud sounds and ridiculously high trumpet solos was pretty much the coolest thing a band geek like me could see. They played at high school marching competitions and because the stadiums were packed they would play two shows, one to each side. We would run from one side of the field to the other to be able to see both shows from the front.
Obviously I ended up going to JMU and marched with the MRDs. I made lifelong friends and brothers (Kappa Kappa Psi-Band Service Fraternity), got involved and had amazing life experiences like marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and travelling to and performing in Greece.
I can't wait for Henry to see the MRDs again this year.
2) Dog Food Smell
Rockingham County, where JMU is located, is the poultry capital of the world. The corner boundaries of the county are marked by large, bronze turkey statues. There are a lot of poultry processing plants in the area and possibly dog food plants that use the leftovers. On rainy days the whole town smells like Dog Food. I know that sounds gross and it's really not a delicious smell but it is something that every JMU student associates with campus and some of us, like me, sometimes miss it!
3) Gray Bluestone, Red Roofs and Blue Skies
Many of the buildings in the older section of the campus were built using local bluestone, which is a gray rock. These buildings have deep red/rust colored tiled roofs. One of my favorite things about campus is the combination of the stone and tiles under a deep blue sky.
4) Kline's Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Kline's dairy bar is a family-owned and operated ice cream place that first opened in 1943. They have chocolate and vanilla ice cream all of the time and then one featured flavor of the week. The flavors range from traditional favorites like cookies and creme to seasonal treats like egg nog and pumpkin. My all-time favorite (and probably the favorite of 90% of JMU grads) is chocolate peanut butter.
Sadly their "flavor forecast" shows that I won't be getting my favorite this week. But I have a feeling we'll be going anyways since Henry enjoys ice cream and every little kid should have some Kline's in their life!
Dave's Taverna, which everyone just knows as Dave's, is my favorite place to eat in Harrisonburg. Their gyros and fries are AMAZING and are my all-time favorite. My mouth is watering while I type this. They have good burgers and pizza too but I usually stick with my favorite. With $2 pitchers of Natty Light, what else could one want?! (I can't wait to eat there on Friday!!!)
Yes, Wal-Mart is one of my favorite things about Harrisonburg...but for people-watching adventures. The older Wal-Mart that is located on the way out of town is known for it's Mennonite Buggy parking and the frequent sightings of true "townies". Townies = people watching gold! The new Wal-Mart is much more "fancy" but now provides us with convenient junk-food and beverage shopping when we go back for alumni weekends.
7) Bells of Wilson Hall
Wilson Hall is one of the oldest buildings on campus and sits at the head of the Quad. There are bells (or now a loud speaker system probably) in the cuppola that chime the time....and the fight song once a day! When I hear the church bells here in Ridgewood I always am brought back to JMU in my mind. Nothing like looking out across campus to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains in the distance with the bells chiming.
8) Truly Friendly People
One of my former bosses at CNU asked me once what they put in the water at JMU because current students and alumni always seem to LOVE (all-caps) it and their experience. I am no exception to that...I still say "Dukes!" when someone does something great, wear purple on game days (even in NJ), and have a picture of Duke Dog up on my bulletin board.
I think one of the things that makes it such a magical place is that everyone is so friendly and generally polite. I always had to laugh when a president of another university I will not name would stand up and say that that school had a "culture of greeting" and that everyone would say hello to each other. It could not be further from the truth about that institution. But at JMU I can honestly say that people DO smile and say hello as they pass other students, faculty, etc.
I had great faculty in and out of the School of Music and had great experiences with my peers (also in and out of the music program).
My college roommate and lifelong best friend (thanks JMU!) Katie introduced me to the joys of drives for stress relief and for thinking. I used to love heading out of town, rolling the windows down and turning up the music. There is really nothing like a drive out on rural roads in the Shenandoah Valley, especially in the late afternoon when the light makes the fields glow gold and the mountains in the distance are so very blue.
Yes, it's true...I miss just about everything about JMU. My college experience was amazing (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)...what I learned in the classroom, what I learned out of the classroom, the people I met, the adventures we had, the tears, the laughter, the Heaven/Hell parties, early morning rehearsals, late night projects, band, fraternity, graduation. I'm so thankful for the experience I had.