"It is my pleasure to announce the best band director in the United States and in the world," said the Rev. Anthony Walton of Christ Temple Apostolic Church of Paducah.
His proclamation came during a band celebration and pep rally assembly Friday afternoon at Paducah Tilghman High School.
With that introduction, Band of Blue director Patrick Saddler began to blush as he took the microphone and accepted a hug from his pastor. After introducing his band and performing two songs, Saddler's only thoughts were "humbled."
"I have been so humbled by this amazing experience," Saddler said with a smile.
After winning the title of Gator Bowl Sweepstakes Grand Champion and $10,000 in Jacksonville, Fla., earlier this month, the band was celebrated and awarded trophies along with its large check during a basketball pep rally hosted by principal Art Davis, with a little help from Mayor Gayle Kaler.
"It really shows you how leadership and heart can come together to make a winning band," Kaler said.
Saddler said the money won from the performance will go back into the band program.
"To have to raise over $70,000 just for the opportunity to compete, and possibly not come home with a win, shows how strong my faith was and is in my students and their ability to deliver a performance of a lifetime," Saddler said.
The band's drum major, senior Ronechia Garrett, said the win is credited to their drive.
"We had the determination, spirit and heart over all the bands competing," Garrett said while dressed in her Tilghman-blue jogging suit.
Contact Allie Douglass, Paducah Sun photographer, at 270-575-8617.