YOUNGSTOWN - Brendan O'Hara said he considers the opportunity to perform next month at the newly renovated Rayen Stadium's first halftime show a "once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of a groundbreaking event."
The 19-year-old, a 2011 Chaney High School graduate, is asking other former Youngstown City Schools band members to join him on the field.
"I'm excited to see what we can do when we come together for one unifying event for Youngstown," said O'Hara, a student at the University of Akron. "I enjoy band and music very much. For me, it's a very important thing for the stadium to open and to be part of all of that."
Rayen Stadium is scheduled to re-open Aug. 25 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. that day, followed by the East vs. Ursuline football game at 2 p.m.
As part of the celebration, Youngstown City Schools is forming a student / alumni band to perform at the inaugural game in the upgraded stadium.
O'Hara, who was in Youngstown's marching band throughout high school, will play trumpet. He and other former Youngstown City Schools band members who graduated within the past eight years, and who can still play an instrument, are invited to participate.
WHAT: Student / alumni band to perform at East vs. Ursuline football game
WHEN: Aug. 25
WHERE: Rayen Stadium
INFO: Carol Baird at 330-744-6985, 330-549-2906, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Natalie Lopez at 330-744-6985
Carol Baird, who is helping to organize the event, said about 25 former students have signed on and she's hoping to have at least 40 by the time the band marches into the stadium.
"The difficult thing has been getting current students to practice because they live all over the city and some of them are having transportation problems," Baird said. "But we are working on that. It's an exciting time."
Rehearsals started last week. Baird said official band practices are scheduled to start Aug. 6 and continue through Aug. 24. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon. Alternative rehearsals will be held evenings for those who work during the day, she said.
Instruments and uniforms will be provided by the school district.
Edward Arrington, former Rayen School and Massillon High School band director, is designing the show and directing the band. Assisted by Daniel Gall, director at Chaney visual and performing arts, Arrington is also coordinating rehearsals.
The band, which also will participate in the opening ceremony, will include all current student band members from East, Chaney VPA and P. Ross Berry as well as alumni.
The stadium served as home field to Rayen and Ursuline, located a few blocks south, and to Youngstown College and Youngstown State University. It was the home field for YSU from 1938 through 1969, then again in 1974 through 1977.
However, use of the stadium, which was built in 1924 through a community fundraising drive, began to decline after 1982 when YSU opened Stambaugh Stadium. Stambaugh became the home field for Rayen and other city schools.
An effort was launched last October to renovate the stadium not just for football, but to offer facilities for other sports teams. Ground was broken in March for the $3 million project. A new press box has been installed, along with new lights.
City schools officials have said renovations are on track and everything is on schedule for East High School's late August football opener, the sole city high school with a team.
"This is something we've been looking forward to, and it's an exciting event for the city," Baird said.