An Iowa band honored the man behind “The Music Man” and a group sang about “the day the music died” — just a couple of the human interest stories Radio Iowa covered in 2009.
In January, President Barack Obama was sworn into office and two groups from Iowa were invited to Washington D.C. to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Inaugural Parade – including a drum corps of 50 members between the ages of 7-and-18. President Obama and his wife, Michelle, clapped in time with the band’s drummers and the president did brief dance as the Isiserette Drill and Drum Corps of Des Moines marched by his reviewing stand.
The other Iowa group to march in front of the president was the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps of Dubuque. The band played “76 Trombones” — written by Iowan Meredith Willson.
This summer, three members of a construction crew working in Des Moines made national news when they saved a woman from drowning. The workers used a crane to lower Jason Oglesbee down to lift the woman out of churning waters below a dam. The workers were recognized with an award ceremony at Des Moines City Hall. Oglesbee remained humble in the national spotlight.
“I just want all this to be over with,” Oglesbee. “…All this press attention — I’m not used to it and I just want to go back to work.”
While Oglesbee and his co-workers were able to rescue the woman, her husband drowned after the boat they were in overturned on the Des Moines River.
In August, a Johnston High School teacher learned she was selected as the 2010 Iowa Teacher of the Year. Sarah Brown Wessling will begin her tenure in January and plans to talk about the importance of community with parents and teachers around the state.
“I think that anyway we can, as a profession, cultivate communities as learners, we’re going to put ourselves in a position to collaborate with each other, learn from each other and to really use the gifts of all the people around us to enhance the learning experience of all students,” she said during an interview with Radio Iowa. Wessling’s a Winterset native who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Iowa State University.
In early February, some 1800 people packed the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Day the Music Died. They honored the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper who died in a plane crash shortly after takeoff from the Mason City Airport.
Claire Richardson traveled from Chino Hills, California, to attend the Winter Dance Party festival.
“I’ve been here three of the last four years and I wouldn’t miss it,” Richardson said. “That’s just part of the best way to pay respects for all they’ve given us in the music world — the three of them.”
Richardson was among a handful of people who broke into song – while gathered at the crash site in frigid early morning temperatures.
Two southern Iowa couples split a big Powerball prize in August. They bought the one-million dollar ticket while camping together at the Iowa State Fair. Rick Hamilton describes the moment he discovered he was holding the winning ticket: “Oh, my knees went weak, I lost my breath and I got dizzy.”
Hamilton and Sharon Sulser of Chariton and Vickie and Terry Chambers of Columbia returned to the fairgrounds “for a few cold ones” after collecting their prize at lottery headquarters.