It was supposed to be a one-off in February 2020 for the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band alumni.
Former members of the legendary city band troupe got back together to perform for the 60th Vernon Winter Carnival. They practiced, marched in the parade and played at a Carnival event.
But it was so much fun for the alumni, they kept practicing and kept playing long after the carnival.
When COVID hit, they performed outside of senior homes. When B.C. Wildfire Service firefighters set up a camp in 2021 at Vernon’s Kin Race Track to help battle the White Rock Lake wildfire, the trumpet band was among the well-wishers, welcoming back the heroes to camp.
Through the help of Vernon Canadian Tire manager Mark Corson, the trumpet band was able to use the vacant, old Canadian Tire facility on 27th Street for an indoor practice facility. The deal was the women could practice as long as they wanted until the building sold.
The building sold.
The alumni are now looking for what members Cathy Sim and Donna Cornell call a “forever indoor practice home.”
“Ideally, it would be like a double basketball court size in a gym with a cement floor,” said Sim. Sim’s grandfather, Bob Hodgson, founded the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band in 1947, 13 years before the first Vernon Winter Carnival in 1960. “We’re not looking for anything fancy, nor do we need storage though that would be nice.”
The parking lot at Kal Tire’s head office on Kal Lake Road has served as the practice locale for the trumpet band since the old Canadian Tire building became unavailable. The women, aged mid-20s to mid-70s, admittedly are “band tough” and “fairweather practicers,” joked Cornell, saying they’re ready to move indoors as the cooler weather comes. They practice twice a month for two hours per gathering.
“The ladies are just loving it,” said Cornell. “We are true performers and it’s a sisterhood. The first time we walked into practice and saw each other, it was so emotional.”
The alumni would like to find a facility centrally located in Vernon because members are coming from Falkland, Armstrong and Lake Country to join those who live in Vernon and Coldstream.
The band had hoped that it would have a chance to use the Vernon Recreation Centre’s auditorium or Priest Valley Gym for indoor rehearsals and the parking lot for outdoor rehearsals. It was awarded the highest city honour, the Freedom of the City of Vernon, in October 1991 and it had hoped that carried some weight in securing those venues.
With a couple of dates already scheduled for 2022, the alumni hope to find a practice facility soon for the survival of the group.
“The biggest thing is having an indoor place to practice,” said Sim. “We can’t do it without an indoor building. It’s not enough to just practice in the summer and fall.”
“Also in the summer, we have jobs, children, grandchildren, we have lives so we may miss a few practices,” added Cornell.
The Vernon Girls Trumpet Band alumni will next practice Saturday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Kal Tire’s head office parking lot.
If anybody can help out with an indoor practice facility, please call Cornell at 250-542-0030.