Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Marching band receives long-awaited sousaphone


August 8, 2019

Tom Ganner

Matt Davis plays the marching band's new sousaphone during the Southeast Alaska State Fair parade last month.

The Haines Community Marching Band finally got its "booming baseline"-the sousaphone-after four years of fundraising, just in time to win first place in the Southeast Alaska State Fair's parade last month.

"Everybody told me we weren't a real marching band without a sousaphone," said Sue Waterhouse, band founder and lead brainstormer behind the hunt.

The brass instrument similar to a tuba cost $2,366--money raised from a handful of local donors, businesses, and, most significantly, the Chilkat Valley Community Foundation, a group that awards grants annual to local organizations.

During Fourth of July festivities, Waterhouse and fellow band-mate Tom Morphet carried around a paper machete rendition of the instrument seeking donations.

"Those who donated got a kiss from Sue, those who didn't got to hear me sing the song from the melodrama Lust for Dust written for Haines," Morphet quipped.

Two weeks later, the real-life sousaphone was lugged to Haines by Jan Farmer, Debra Schnabel's cousin who traveled from Phoenix to attend the fair.

"I got a phone call from Susie saying 'Do you know anyone coming to the fair who I could drop-ship the sousaphone to in the lower 48, because the company won't ship to Alaska?' said Schnabel, who plays the base drum in the band.

The instrument debuted in the parade, played by school music teacher Matt Davis.

Morphet said it's been a long time coming.

"A marching band without a sousaphone is like a pickup truck without a tailgate," Morphet said. "The bell of a tuba goes skyward, and when you're outside that sound just gets lost. The genius of the sousaphone made it easier to carry by putting your neck through it, and the bell is pointed forward so the people the band is marching toward get the benefit of the base."

Morphet and Waterhouse were the energy behind the sousaphone, Schnabel said.

"I thought we were a real marching band," Schnabel said. "But Tom and Sue both believed that we were not a marching band without a sousaphone."


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