2003 – The Jim Ott Flag

from the 2003 seasonJim Ott Flag

2003 Spirit’s “October” ballad featured tribute flags from great departed corps and individuals important to “the activity” who have passed away. Indeed, this was a high point for many fans at Orlando, and people from all over have commented on the joy and sadness that this part of the “Time” show evoked. Combined with the dramatic jump to 12th place in Semifinals, Spirit became a major story at the 2003 Championships. Thanks to our creative staff and members for conceiving and executing a performance that mattered so much to so many people.
For Spirit alums, it was especially poignant that Jim Ott was recognized during the “Let It Be Me” company front in the closer. But perhaps more importantly, Jim’s family was pleased by the tribute. Many people who have lost a loved one to tragedy will tell you that keeping the memory alive is very important to them, for to lose someone is not as bad as having them be lost and forgotten. The Ott family has supported Spirit through the years, and appreciates that Jim memory is still honored by Spirit.
There was a flurry of interest in the tribute flags at the end of the championship, and because of a generous alumnus, the SOAAA became the owner of the Jim Ott flag.
The SOAAA sent the flag to the Ott family several weeks ago, packaged in a presentation box accompanied by a letter from the SOAAA. Pops had already been sent a DVD of Spirit’s Semifinals performance, so he knew of the flag’s place in the show.
Family friend Roy Perez says that Harold and Patricia (Moms and Pops) were appreciative of the flag, and shared it with their daughter Bonnie and Jim’s widow Maggie. They returned to us a photo of the flag, and a few kind words.
It’s important to remember that The Ott family was known as the “First Family” of drum corps. Pops was the director of the Stockton Commodores, Bonnie the great mellophone soloist with the Blue Devils, and Jim of course, in his time, being the preeminent brass arranger and instructor.
To make a meaningful gesture to these wonderful people who have given so much, and lost so much, is a great privilege. The entire Spirit organization can be proud and humbled to be a part of a good thing.

Nora Whisenant
Spirit of Atlanta Alumni Association