A group of 40 enthusiastic Jacksonville College Choir members climbed aboard two air conditioned buses Friday for a three-and-a-half hour trip to the (also air conditioned) Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.

These youngsters were heading to their first major gig of the year — singing the National Anthem prior to the Houston Astros-Seattle Mariners game that evening.

It also was officially “City of Jacksonville Night” at Minute Made Park. Tim Timmons, spokesman for Jacksonville College said as the students showcased the vocal talents, the community would come together to demonstrate tremendous Jacksonville pride.

That pride would be displayed from  special section of field boxes — Section 2 —  reserved for the visitors from Jacksonville, with reduced price tickets of $24 being offered for that section.

The mostly 18 through 20 year old choir members were accompanied by their choral director and music instructor, Tom Vandegriff.

As they filled up the buses, choir members seemed fairly nonchalant about their upcoming performance during the on-field, pre-game ceremonies.

With the game starting at  7:10 p.m., the choir had to depart between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Friday to get there with time to spare.

As the choir prepared to leave, Alyssa Willis — a 19-year-old sophomore Alto from Ennis — said she was really looking forward to the game.

 “I always enjoy going on trips,” she said.

 Michael Nickle, a 20-year-old Jacksonville College sophomore, said he generally plays piano for the choir. But on Friday, he was excited about the prospect of singing bass with them before a Major League baseball game.

“I always like to come along and listen to them (the choir)  perform —  they are very talented,” he said as he prepared to climb on the bus.  

Hannah Miller, an 18-year-old Jacksonville College sophomore from Wheelock, was looking forward to singing about The Rocket's Red Glare.

But she also is a road trip aficionado.

“I love going on trips,” she said. “It's fun being crammed into a car.”

Or, in this case, a bus.

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