SARASOTA - Normal feels different for the Riverview High Marching Band, for all the right reasons. The COVID pandemic changed what the Riverview High Marching Kilties could do in 2020. They wore masks. They stood six feet apart. They put bell covers on their horns.

So as for how they pulled off a halftime show, this year's co-drum major Kai Okamoto says, "We had a reduced halftime show where we could only march between songs."

As you'd imagine, a marching band not marching during a halftime show is peculiar but circumstances were what they were. Now, Kai and fellow drum major Moriah Emrich say normalcy is finally marching back into the program.

"You forget how much you enjoy everything until you're doing it again," says Moriah.

"It's like, oh, we're going back in the stands," Kai says.

"Oh, like, we get to play in the courtyard on Friday mornings again," Moriah says.

"Oh, we're gonna, you know, actually have a halftime show," says Kai.

But things are still a little bit different. Although assistant director Chuck Evans remains at the school, Moriah's being taught under a new band director, Tamara Lewis, who unfortunately was sick during filming.

But a rather large difference is Moriah's the one being interview this year.

"That's, like, the crazy part about being drum major. It's like, oh, all those people I watched before me that I wanted to be like, that's me now!" Moriah laughs.

With COVID restrictions eased, the Kilties return to what they're known for: marching bag pipes, playing popular music, and giving the new students an experience they'll never forget.

"Freshman year is so fun because there's so many firsts. You get your first football game, you get first time on a bus with the whole band, first trip you go on with the whole band," Moriah says.

"It gives you an experience you can't get anywhere else in the normal curriculum because some students don't feel success in the normal curriculum," says Kai.

And this return to near normalcy actually feels different.

"It's like the comeback. I think that this could be a very special season if we keep going down the path we're going down," Moriah says.

There's something about that yearly feeling returning two years later that makes this normal feeling a once in a lifetime event.

"It's something that people who weren't in this bracket of high schoolers will never be able to say they went through. So it'll definitely be an interesting story like for all of us when we're older," Moriah says.

The theme of the halftime show is British Invasion, and you may recognize a few of the tunes in the story. They're playing "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles, "Pinball Wizard" by The Who, "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay, and Queen's "We Will Rock You."

As a bonus video, you may not know it if you're not involved in band, but there's plenty of mingling between students of all the schools. For next week's Band of the Week about the Venice High Marching Indians, we spoke with one of their drum majors who met Kai and Moriah at a recent FSU band camp. We look forward to showcasing them next week!