Last Friday was one of those special days for me to enjoy my job.

Of course, it was Houston High School Homecoming weekend, so there were multiple opportunities to take in fun and interesting moments.

Plenty of those moments came and went during the annual Homecoming Parade in downtown Houston. The setting was perfect, with ideal weather and the usual big crowd lining Grand Avenue made up of hundreds of local residents ready for a good time and hundreds of students who were happy to have been let out of school early for the occasion.

As I stood by and took a bunch of photos, I couldn’t help but smile as the class floats or trailer-loads of alumni or current sports team members went past, and I let out a laugh or two when someone in the bed of a pickup tossed a big handful of candy to the awaiting hoard of kids, many of whom were present and prepared for that very instance.

The parade’s colorful sights and sounds – and all the smiles in every direction – made for such a nice atmosphere, which was pretty nice in the face of all that’s going on in this upside-down world.

Toward the end of the procession came the HHS Tiger Pride Marching Band. With band director Sam Van Dielen in control, the ensemble paused for a while at Pine Street and laid down some well-executed tunes, including the HHS Fight Song, to which many people joined in and pumped their fists in unison.

A few hours later, I was in Tiger Stadium ready for what was sure to be a whale of a Homecoming Night football game, as the squads from Houston and archrival Cabool matched up in the annual Battle of Texas County. And perhaps not surprisingly, the Tigers continued their roll and dispatched the game Bulldogs, as they have all four opponents so far in 2022.

Without going into a lot of detail (because there’s quite a bit of that to be read in print and online), Houston’s performance in the contest was nothing short of great, and could only make fans appreciate it. After falling behind 12-0 in the first quarter, this year’s group of Football Tigers took a collective deep breath and went to work, outscoring Cabool 38-12 over the next three periods to finish with a convincing 38-24 victory.

And as has been the case in all four outings this season, the Tigers pulled off the stunning win with a total team effort; there were different guys making key plays at every juncture – on offense, defense and special teams.

And then there was the band again, and a halftime performance unlike any I could have imagined.

Make no mistake, I fully expected to be impressed by the band’s performance, because I’ve seen the group practice and heard what they’re capable of. But I was astounded by what happened on that field.

The only way I can describe is to say it was a beautiful, well-designed and highly theatrical spectacle that took everyone who paid attention on a wondrous musical trip. It was literally breathtaking. The instrumentation was spot-on, as each member nailed virtually every note exactly as planned. But the addition of elegant dancers and various wooden props made it seem more like a professional production than a halftime performance by a set of high school kids.

Van Dielen has been saying for months that people were going to be surprised and pleased by what they saw the band do this year, and he wasn’t just blowing hot air. Every student and every coach involved should be proud of this accomplishment – it’s just not normal, and it’s downright cool.

When the memorable show was over I went up to Van Dielen, extended my hand and said, “that was fantastic!”

In a totally matter-of-fact and objective manner, he simply said, “I know.”

Anyway, some days are better than others, and last Friday was a good one in my book.

Just so you know, there’s another chance to witness the Football Tigers and the Tiger Pride Marching Band in action this weekend when the Thayer Bobcats come to town for a rare Saturday afternoon game.

Yep, Saturday afternoon. While that might be odd on several levels, the good news is that fans will be viewing both the game and band’s show in the daytime, so the viewing should be especially good.

And there are likely to be many more special moments.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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