A traffic jam transformed into an unforgettable journey for GSCC Show Band
While on their way to a concert and music clinic in Birmingham on October 14, the Gadsden State Community College Show Band experienced something most people would consider their worst nightmare.
“We were on our way to hear Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra perform at the Alys Stephens Center,” said group director Dr Matt Leder. “We were down (Interstate 59) and I guess there was some sort of accident or delay and we got stuck on the freeway.”
En route in the southbound lanes of I-59, the group stopped in what appeared to be endless traffic jam, which Leder said lasted about an hour and a half to two hours.
“Because the emergency personnel had to go down the freeway, the cars were divided, so there was enough space for them to pass,” Leder said, describing the scene. “So everyone kind of pulled over to the side of the road and people are walking down the street because we’ve been there for so long.”
With this traffic jam, however, the group had had the opportunity to do good. Leder said the group began to see people walking the freeway with what appeared to be groceries and orange juice.
“What happened was a truck driver came up to the bus and said his truck’s refrigeration was turning off and they needed to get rid of the juice. they had stored, ”he said. “The driver asked if they could give the juice to the students and I agreed, but he came back with big, huge cans of juice that you would buy in a grocery store.”
Leder said those orange juice containers come in what he believed to be six to eight packs. He found himself with more than 20 students who hauled them down the highway, looking for people to juice.
“Some of our students gave these juices to these cars, and some people took it and some didn’t,” he said. “We had a student who was so determined to give these juices to people that he didn’t stop until he gave all his boxes. ”
Leder added: “We ended up having so much juice that some of it wasn’t distributed, so we ended up storing it at the back of our bus. I actually didn’t want it to be wasted either, but I ended up with three or four juices on my own.
Leder said other students who didn’t hand out juice helped steer cars that were tired of waiting and trying to pass, but couldn’t and were stuck. He said they were able to redirect them safely into the main traffic.
“I think our students are great people. It’s about being a good citizen, ”Leder explained of why the students felt the need to do it.
Upon their return, Leder said one of the students requested to receive the photos. “I said, ‘Sure, why not, just be careful where you send these things,'” he recalls.
Unbeknownst to Leder, the student sent the photos to ABC 33/40 chief meteorologist James Spann, who then posted them on his Facebook page. Leder said the post has gained traction online, gaining more than 600 shares and amassing nearly 300 comments.
“To be honest, I feel like my students thought they were famous. LE James Spann put them on his social media page and they thought they were successful, ”Leder said of the viral post. “For me, this is my eighth year in Alabama, I know the importance of James Spann and who he is, but I haven’t had as much reaction as my students. I just hoped it was seen as a positive thing, not a negative thing. ”
The group learned that the photos were shared on social media during a dinner break because they missed the clinic due to traffic jams. However, they were able to make the concert.
“As we got back on the bus after dinner, one of the students was contacted by the Birmingham news station and asked if he could do an interview,” Leder said. “So he was interviewed as we walked into the concert. ”
He said the students were able to meet Marsalis after the concert and learn from him. “One of our students had a one-on-one backstage with him, and the band’s singer came back on the bus as we were leaving and had a mini jam session with our singers,” the director said. .
Leder said he and the group hope that by hearing about their experience, people learn to take unhappy situations and make them positive.
“I hope people learn how to make the most of a bad situation,” he explained, “Sometimes life tends to throw you ball, but you have to look at life with humor and don’t not drag yourself down. Keep moving forward. ”
Leder said he was happy with what happened to the group that day on I-59. “It was a wonderful time. It’s nice to see what would have originally been a trip and a series of unfortunate events turn into a trip that they will likely remember for the rest of their lives, ”he said.
The GSCC Show Band can then be seen locally at its next jazz festival on November 4 and 5. The festival will feature regional jazz bands, alongside the Army Jazz Ambassadors and the Oracle Blue Band. Admission to this event and all other Show Band performances is free.