Beloved Observer columnist Kays Gary rallied the city around many worthy causes. In 1971 he focused on the West Charlotte Lions marching band whose 20-year-old uniforms needed to be replaced! Here’s his story from November 24, 1971:
‘Turned On’ Readers Help Keep The Beat Going
By Kays Gary
And the beat goes on.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It was a big day at West Charlotte High just after noon Tuesday when the Lions band, resplendent in new uniforms, paraded in the school’s stadium and won the student body’s cheers with a “Thank You, Charlotte” concert.
Under the direction of Richard Maxwell, the wild rhythms of West Charlotte’s drum brought the maroon-gold-and-blue-clad musicians prancing proudly into the stadium before they drew themselves up before the stands and played the national anthem.
Student Mitzi Bellamy gave a prayer of Thanksgiving after which Drum Major Reginald Quick and Majorette Susan McNeill expressed thanks from the band for student and community support, with PTA President Mrs. Sarah Stevenson and Maxwell, representing parents and faculty, adding expressions of gratitude.
Representing you, Observer readers, who helped students raise more than $5,000 in four days last week to claim the new uniforms, I was introduced by Principal Gerson Stroud, made an honorary member of the band and was given a doll dressed in a West Charlotte band uniform made by girls of the Home Economics class.
I could only tell the students and band that you readers were “turned on” by the manner in which they were putting it all together under difficult circumstances and that you’d have an eye out for the marching Lions in the Carrousel parade and anywhere else they appear.
Master of Ceremonies Lee Larrimore then gave the nod to Director Maxwell and for 15 minutes the bandsmen, majorettes and pom-pom girls showed that the West Charlotte sound and beat hasn’t changed. They had the students beating their feet in the stands and had them squealing as the band made its dancing exit.
It was, and justifiably, a proud and happy day.