BOLTON LANDING-One day last week a raucous cheer erupted from the band practice room in Bolton Central School.
Band director Stan Walkanowski prompted the uproar, as he announced to his marching band they'd have an opportunity few young musicians would ever experience in their lifetime.
The Bolton High School Marching Band has been invited to perform the "Star Spangled Banner" at the beginning of a New York Mets baseball game Thursday May 5 against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field in Queens.
The 36-member band is scheduled to play the patriotic anthem just prior to the first pitch at some point between 12:50 p.m. and 1:07 p.m., Walkanowski said.
"When I broke the news to the band members, they literally jumped out of their chairs and went crazy," he said. "And when the news settled in, several kids still didn't believe it."
Walkanowski said he is retiring in June after 20 years as a music teacher and band director at Bolton Central, and he had been telling the band members he was going to arrange a special trip for them during his final year.
Walkanowski's repeated calls to the Mets office prompted the gig that will be giving the students their five minutes of fame as they play the Star Spangled Banner, in formal garb, right in front of the Mets team dugout.
He was prompted by a friend who made the suggestion after hearing that Bolton Superintendent of Schools Ray Ciccarelli, guidance counselor Steve Showers, and Walkanowski were all ardent Mets fans.
Walkanowski then googled "high school band," "Mets," and "national anthem." The search revealed the name of a band in Michigan that had made a similar performance for the Mets. He then phoned the band director and got some tips on how to lobby for such a treasured privilege.
Despite an initial cool response from the Mets, Walkanowski persisted. Walkanowski sent the Mets management a CD of the band playing the national anthem in practice, and a photo of the group performing in the South Glens Falls Holiday Parade. Mets officials responded that they liked the CD and the looks of the band, and they offered the gig.