The sky is blue. The grass is green. And I think today looks like a great day for a nat pack. Lucky for me, my boss agrees, and hands me two potential shooter’s pieces within five minutes of walking in the door. Option #1 Hundreds of goats eating their way through the weeds at Bear Creek Park. Option #2 Fire fighters from all over North America preparing for the annual IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial service.
Considering the close proximity of the goat story I decide to head there first. A few minutes of fruitless driving later and I’m beginning to think that I’m going nuts. If there were two hundred goats in the park, you’d think I’d notice them. I pull to the side of the road and glance down at my information. Today is the right day. Now is the right time. Where the hell are they? I call the listed contact number and get an automated answering machine… no luck. I hope this isn’t a precursor to how the rest of the day will go.
As I’m throwing my cell phone on the seat, contemplating my next move, a hear a knock on the door. “Are you looking for the goats?” “Why yes, actually I am. Ummm… where are they?” I respond. “Not here yet. Let me make a phone call.”
Five minutes later she returns. The goats are over an hour away; still north of Denver. Whelp, I guess option #2 is now option # only.
I hear the bagpipes before I see them. The sound is powerful and moving. There is a sadness to the notes that strikes me almost immediatley, only intensifying the giddy feeling in my stomache that I get before every nat pack shoot.
I wind slowly down the path leading to the parking lot, passing a group of drummers on my right. Colorful flags line the field in front of me. Organized chaos, I think to myself. I hop out of the truck and head immediately to the drum site. Plan A, get all my nats and worry about interviews later. Hopefully I don’t need a plan B, because I haven’t the slightest idea what that would be.
Firefighters are always fun to do stories with because they all HATE being on tv. Considering the nature of this story, they can’t turn me down… so I get to pick a lucky participant out the crowd and they have to deal with the ridicule. Dressed in shorts, fire fighter t-shirts, and goofy fishing hats, the group looks more like a modge podge of college kids then anything else. I know tomorrow they’ll be looking sharp, and the out of place outfits I’m seeing today will be stashed in suitcases at the hotel room.
I spend some time collecting audio of the drummers lining up in formation. Then I quickly head over to the bagpipes. The entire field is filled with pipers (is that what they’re called?) practicing tunes on their own. The cacophony of notes blend together into an incomprehensible melody… I hope they sound better when they are all playing together. Eventually the drummers march their way over to the bagpipe field and I’m given a front row seat to a their beautiful concert. When I’m not distracted by the flying drum sticks, I’m holding back tears that bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace always seems to bring out.
Eventually, after I’ve collected enough video, I head over to the flags that are lined up in an awesome array of colors and vibrancy. This is the stuff photogs dream of. Last, but certainly not least I head over to the memorial wall where families are already lining up to trace their loved ones names. Tear stained flowers rest peacefully on the ground, a distinct shift from the storm of emotions running down the faces of family left behind. Once again, I fight to keep my emotions inside.
It is early afternoon by the time I leave to go back to the station. I’m confident I have enough to turn a really great nat pkg… now it’s just up to me to do the video, sound, and people justice.
This is what came out of the whole thing. Check it out… let me know what you think.