Purple Powerhouse Band rocks football games

By Carrie A. Mizell
No one gets the Bell Bulldogs fired up on Friday nights like the Purple Powerhouse Marching Band.
Under the direction of Chris Dunn, the band program at Bell High School has grown from 45 to 93 members over the last three years. Dunn attributes the band’s success to their enthusiasm on Friday nights. Win or lose, the Purple Powerhouse Marching Band will continue playing in the stands and on the field at halftime, as they cheer on the home team.

Bell High School’s Purple Powerhouse Marching Band performs the 007 theme during halftime Friday night in Trenton. Photo by Heather White Photography.

“We believe in team spirit,” Dunn said. “Our members are excited and kids are seeing that on Friday nights and want to be a part of it.”
This season, the band’s halftime show is entitled “A Night at the Movies” and it was written by Dunn to give the spectators a sense of being at a movie theater as they listen to the band perform the 20th Century Fox themes to Batman, James Bond, Over The Rainbow, Rocky, and Star Wars. Band members Aida Valdes sings during the Over The Rainbow performance as Kati Thomas plays the trumpet. The band’s halftime show will be presented for the first time in it’s entirety at the Friday, Oct. 4 homecoming game.
Believe it or not, Dunn said he is not the best musician in his family. Originally from Zephyrhills, Dunn met and married Gilchrist County native Grace Mikell Dunn while the two were attending the University of South Florida. A noted horn player, Dunn said his wife Grace is far more talented horn player than he is, though she spends her days working as a doctor at Palms Medical Group’s Bell location. It was Grace Dunn’s desire to return to her home that brought the couple to Gilchrist County. At the start of his third school year at Bell High School, Dunn said he loves living and working in Gilchrist County because of the people.
“When I got here the kids were all good, and they were really motivated,” Dunn said. “I have just brought some new ideas and the enthusiasm has grown.”
Dunn said he is very proud of the band students and how hard they work. It is his hope that each one will learn a lifelong love for music while playing in the band at Bell High School.
Principal Rick Reed said that under Chris Dunn’s leadership the Bell High School Band has become legendary.
“The sheer number of students that participate in the band, flags and support are phenomenal,” said Reed. “Mr. Dunn’s relationship with the students and parents is nothing short of incredible. The Purple Powerhouse Band is AWESOME!!!”