Not long after last year's festival ended, Crowley passed away. He had seemed so happy and healthy during Brass Band week that I couldn't believe the news when I heard it. Not Bruce. Not when he said he felt so full of life.
I will proudly wear my staff shirt with the initials "BC" on the sleeve in memory of a really good man the next three days.
Behind the scenes
Crowley could do a little bit of everything from making sure his son, Terry, got the backdrop up correctly to repairing a water line to loading and unloading chairs. There was no job he would not try - or complete. That's why I will always remember the time he accidentally knocked a side mirror off a bus with the truck he was driving when we were moving music stands and instruments.
Crowley stopped the truck, jumped out, got his duct tape and went to work putting the mirror back on the bus to keep from delaying the band bus.
What I appreciated the most about Crowley, though, was the support he offered the youth workers that I supervise. Trust me, without these 10 to 15 high school and college students each year, the festival would be in trouble. We expect these youngsters to work long hours, show wisdom beyond their years and be ready to change plans at a moment's notice.
I usually know most of the youth workers from covering high school sports. This year's work force again includes state 800-meter champion Ross Hempel and former Area Athlete of the Year Ronnie Hawkins. Former Boyle County football player Ian Loughry is working as an intern for the Tennessee Titans this summer, but he managed to get off to come home and work again. And if you come to the picnic Saturday, you'll again have to pass inspection by Boyle football, baseball and soccer player Patrick Barsotti.
Cared about youth workers
Crowley always took the time to ask me about every youth worker. If he were still here, he would be telling me how he remembered Chris Walker, Alex Wagner and Jacob Moore from previous years or what Jonathan Rankin and Byron Hempel did last year. And he always saw the best in all of them. No matter what they did, or didn't do, he could laugh, shake his head and remind me how valuable they were. It was almost like their enthusiasm made him feel younger and his wisdom helped them act older.
We'll have another great festival. The bands will be superb and the people will be wonderful. Everything from the balloon race to the gallery hop to the 5K race to the picnic to the church service will be special. The downtown performance tonight and the one on Saturday night will be scintillating.
However, this year is just not going to be quite the same. As proud as I will be to have BC on my sleeve, it can't compare with having our Brass Band friend actually working with us again.