Marching Band Adds Dinosaur to Its Formation

Citrus Heights, CA  |  By Helen Brewer
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Kathy Cook watches her husband, Bill Cook, use a brazing torch to connect the musical dinosaur’s teeth. After seeing a dinosaur made out of tubas on Facebook, Bill Cook decided to make a dinosaur to compliment the band’s 2017 fanfare showpiece – the theme song from the “Jurassic Park” movie. Brassie, though, is made of 45 unusable trumpets, baritones, trombones, a clarinet, a flute, and a tuba. Photo courtesy CHMB

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Brassie is 7 feet 6 inches tall and 18 feet long. CHCMB includes 60 musicians, 9 flag carriers, and a drum major. Pictured on the left is 83-year-old Bob Martinez, the oldest member of the band. Pictured at the tail end of the dinosaur are flag carrier Elizabeth Stach; Mason Boyd (youngest member), bass drum; Carson Boyd, snare drum; Edward Stach, trumpet; Lynda Watson, clarinet; and Olivia Malone, clarinet. Photo courtesy CHMB

Made of 45 “extinct” musical instruments

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) - Brassie the Brassaurus, a 7+-foot tall by 18-foot long dinosaur, will made his musical debut when the Citrus Heights Community Marching Band (CHCMB) performed the theme song from the “Jurassic Park” movie at the Bella Vista Community Show held at Bella Vista High School  in Fair Oaks in September.

“Similar to the extinct Tyrannosaurus in shape, Brassie is made of 45 ‘extinct’ musical instruments,” said Kathy Cook, the band’s Program Director and co-founder.   “We sometimes purchase or get donations of used musical instruments and some of them turn out to be broken and beyond repair.  Those are what we used for Brassie.”

The musical instrument dinosaur was designed and built by Bill Cook, CHCMB’s other Program Director.  Cook, now retired, was the construction superintendent for developer Robert Powell for 27 years.  “We saw a picture of a dinosaur made out of tuba parts on Facebook and because we are using the Jurassic theme as our 2017 fanfare showpiece, I decided we should build one . . . only we used old trumpets, baritones, trombones, one clarinet, and one flute as well as an 1880’s tuba for Brassie,” he said.  “Brassie turned out to be so large and heavy that we had to purchase a special trailer to transport him.”

Cook didn’t use a plan or blueprint.  “I just started laying out old instruments and used my construction experience and knowledge to put everything together,” he said.  He made Brassie in a week with some part-time assistance from Kody Tickner, CHCMB Music Director.

In addition to his Bella Vista High School debut, Brassie will be showcased at CHCMB’s fall and winter field shows, including the Oakmont Competition at Oakmont High School in Roseville on October 14th and at the Folsom Fall Festival at Folsom High School on November 4th.  In between, he will be on display at band events and at the Citrus Heights City Hall. 

Brassie isn’t the first thing that Bill Cook has created with “extinct” musical instruments.  Always popular as raffle prizes at CHCMB’s fundraisers are lamps, clocks, paper towel holders, flower pots, and a waterfall made with musical instruments. 

CHCMB is made up of 70 members, ranging in age from 6 years to 87 years.  In addition to 60 musicians, there are 9 flag carriers, and a drum major. Plus another 20 volunteers help behind the scenes with organization and at performances. 

The band was organized in 2005 when the City of Citrus Heights parade committee wanted a marching band to perform in the annual Red, White, and Blue Parade.

 “Having no success at attracting one, we decided to create our own marching band,” said Kathy Cook.  “With the help and support of City staff and Sunrise Recreation & Park District, we recruited 25 experienced adult musicians and an 8-year old baton twirler to march in the parade that year.” 

 “Now we don’t just do marching appearances, we also participate in concerts,” said Kathy Cook.  The band practices once a week in the San Juan High School cafeteria from November to May and in the Sunrise Mall parking lot from June to November. 

“The band was named one of the top 20 accomplishments at the City of Citrus Heights 20th anniversary celebration two months ago and was the recipient of the 2013 Heroes and Human Services Award that was presented to us by former County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan,” said Kathy Cook.  “We’re good-will ambassadors, both in our City and in other communities, marching or performing at more than 20 events a year.”

Staying true to its mission statement – “Keep music alive for all ages!” – the band welcomes beginning as well as experienced musicians and provides musical instruments and limited instruction when needed.  “But potential band members should be able to read music,” she cautioned.

A non-profit organization, the band raises funds with its annual Spaghetti Feed in March and Howl-O-Ween event in October, at two major yard sales, and from community donations.  Major CHCMB sponsors are the City of Citrus Heights, Sunrise Recreation and Park District, Walmart, Citrus Heights Auburn Boulevard Store, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and business and community members.

For more information about Brassie, CHCMB membership and appearances, and fund-raisers, contact Kathy Cook at (916) 725-0198 or at abusycook@aol.com.