An 18-year-old retired U-Haul truck might not be at the top of every teenager’s transportation wish list, but the members of the Hoover High School marching band are thrilled with their new ride.
“It is great,” said drum major Gabriela Chiquito, 17. “It is a donation and we are really grateful.”
The 1993 truck, which boasts a 24-foot-long box, 220,000 miles and a Hoover-themed wrap, was unveiled during the school’s lunch period on Tuesday. It will be used to transport instruments and other equipment to athletic competitions and band events, school officials said.
The truck comes at a time when the Hoover band, now 40 members strong, is trying to rebuild. The program was put on hiatus for 10 years before it was relaunched in 2006, said current director Marty Rhees, leaving the band with few quality instruments.
What little they did have was being transported improperly, causing further wear and tear.
“We were destroying instruments every time we got on the bus,” Rhees said. “We just couldn’t invest in the necessary things for this program to succeed…if we are just going to destroy it.”
Last year, Rhees tapped band parent Michael Risner to head a booster club to support the marching band. At the top of the to-do list was exploring transportation options.
Risner unsuccessfully contacted local entertainment studios looking for a castoff truck. He then turned to Craigslist, eventually coming across the retired U-Haul truck. He paid for it himself — $3,000.
Risner started researching auto body shops looking for someone who would do basic maintenance work, as well as remake the exterior of the truck in purple and white, the Hoover High School colors. Glendale Unified benefactor Johnny Harrison, vice president at Lexus of Glendale, made a personal referral.
“The next thing we know, we are standing over in the auto shop yard here with Sean from Wrap Ads and he is measuring the truck and he tells is Lexus if picking up the tab for the entire thing,” Risner said. “We were floored, we didn’t know what to think.”
The new truck will allow the band to put on bigger and better shows, school officials said, all while serving as a moving billboard for the school and the program.
“I hope this is a sign of things to come,” Principal Jennifer Earl said. “This is the level of class that I want people to think of when they think of Hoover High School.”