Accordion Causes School Evacuation — and It Wasn’t Even Played


Who among us dares to polka fun at this near tragedy? According to Harold tfzhhihhef
at the Grand Island Independent, in Grand Island, NE:

Accordion causes school evacuation

A suspicious package that resulted in the evacuation of approximately 900 students and staff members from Walnut Middle School Wednesday afternoon turned out to be an accordion inside a box.

Capt. Robert Falldorf of the Grand Island Police Department said a staff member spotted the box in the band room, but could not recall seeing it there before. The staff member did not think the box looked like it held any kind of band instrument.

Falldorf said the Grand Island Public Schools safety officer was contacted, with that person agreeing that Walnut Middle School should be evacuated as a precaution. All students and staff walked to Grand Island Senior High, which is just a few blocks north of Walnut.

The article goes on for about another seven thousand pages, explaining the protocol followed, and the units involved, including dogs who you’d think would howl anywhere NEAR an accordion. But no:

[Faldorf] said the State Patrol brought a canine unit, although he did not know whether the dog was used to help determine that the package was harmless. The State Patrol bomb unit determined that they could open the latches on the box, and that is when the accordion was discovered inside.

Sweet Lady of Spain, that was a close one. Naturally, there was a press conference:

Rick Ressel, GIPS safety coordinator, held a brief press conference at Grand Island Senior High to provide a few more details about the evacuation. He said that the latched box for the accordion did not look at all like a normal container for a band instrument or any other instrument.

Let’s get this straight: That box did not look one OUNCE like it contained an instrument! If anything, it looked like the kind of box you’d use to ship a small nuclear device to the band department. The kind of thing some disgruntled flautist would use.

While in the end, nothing bad happened, the incident did call to mind another big day in Grand Island: The Foul Smell of 1998, when the entire school was also evacuated. Though many students were taken to hospital by ambulance, Reutter reports that,  en fin, “no students or staff members suffered any injuries because of the noxious odor.”

So, so far two for two, when it comes to Grand Island narrowly averting mass exterminations. But you never know. You just never know.

P.S. The accordion happens to be my favorite instrument. For real. It deserves better than this!


Welk-ome terrorists!

Welk-ome terrorists!


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60 Responses to Accordion Causes School Evacuation — and It Wasn’t Even Played

  1. PacMom January 29, 2016 at 8:05 pm #

    Since all my kids play some kind of instruments and I also have a few inherited from Dad… house must be a war zone! (Actually sounds like 1 when they all practice at the same time). BTW. All my kids under 16 and all out of House tonight. 1 at weekend Kiwanis conference 2 at a movie. WITHOUT US!

  2. Wendy W January 29, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    And it never occurred to them to make an announcement and ask if anyone had left a box in the band room before calling the Bomb Squad?

  3. BL January 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

    “he did not know whether the dog was used to help determine that the package was harmless”

    Then they began playing the accordion, and dog began howling madly …

  4. pentamom January 29, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    “Sweet Lady of Spain, that was a close one.”

    Lenore wins the Internet.

  5. Travis January 30, 2016 at 12:36 am #

    So, not only the 900 students and staff of this high school were disrupted and probably panicked merely because there was a box in a room, they also made them walk to another school, which they probably disturbed as well?

    I wonder what this staff member would make of my son and nieces’ screaming competitions. Their mind would probably go straight to murder.

  6. Jessica January 30, 2016 at 12:36 am #

    For your viewing pleasure:

  7. Cassie January 30, 2016 at 12:38 am #

    Which staff member was in the band room… not a music teacher surely?

    If not a music teacher… then was it someone who was really qualified to know what musical instrument cases look like? They are bizarre looking boxes.

    Are accordian cases the modern day violin case?

  8. James Alderman January 30, 2016 at 1:14 am #

    Pretty sure the improper PLAYING of the accordion would have also resulted in students streaming out of the school.

  9. Warren January 30, 2016 at 1:56 am #

    Just waiting for LRH and Emily to complain about accordions being noise pollution.

  10. Backroads January 30, 2016 at 3:47 am #

    To be a fly on the wall when the moment of truth came.

    Is the accordian-playing youngster to be expelled for all this hullabaloo?

  11. Andrew January 30, 2016 at 4:52 am #

    The case of the accordion.

    Fancy, somone leaving a musical instrument in its box, in a storage room for musical instruments! OK, so an accordion case looks a bit like a short fat suitcase, ideal for transportation of bombs and other suspicious articles, but still. So, did the press praise this event as an good example of the protocols working, or condemn it as an example of stupidity?

  12. JB January 30, 2016 at 5:48 am #

    Usually, the statement “There is nothing more frustrating than an ignorant person who thinks they’re an expert” applies to complex political or scientific issues.

    But it also applies just as well to this case. They couldn’t have brought in a music teacher or, say, google, to say “Yep, that’s an instrument box alright”?

    I have no idea what an accordion box looks like, but Bayesian analysis suggests that a box in a music room is probably music-related, and that one should ask a music expert before acting on the assumption that it’s not.

    Also, who is this person whose job allows them to wander around places they know nothing about, looking for random objects, and can they be fired to reduce payroll costs?

  13. Barry Mitchell January 30, 2016 at 7:36 am #

    Where do accordionists worship?
    At Our Lady of Spain.

  14. Donna January 30, 2016 at 8:02 am #

    This makes no sense. Was the music teacher in a coma and, therefore, couldn’t just be asked what was in the box? Or was the music teacher as perplexed as everyone else about the box and, therefore, should be fired for incompetence?

  15. lollipoplover January 30, 2016 at 8:17 am #

    It’s common knowledge that the accordion is an instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin.

  16. hineata January 30, 2016 at 10:39 am #

    Oh dear, this brings back memories….my dad and my uncle, two sheets to the wind, ‘jamming’ on the piano and the accordion during Uncle’s rare visits. An instrument you don’t see enough of around here any more, and I didn’t know why….obviously the Bomb Squad has been destroying them all.

  17. SanityAnyone? January 30, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    If it were bagpipes, I’d have no problem with this situation, although the accordion is suspicious.

  18. Dean Whinery January 30, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    “Gee Mom, it WAS a Wurlitzer!”
    I’d go for some polka or norteño music right now. Where’s Lawrence Welk when you need him?

  19. Betsy in Michigan January 30, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

    I recommend the application of bumper-type stickers to ALL band (and orchestra!) cases in Grand Island stating “This is not a bomb”. It would assist the feeble-minded, and be a snarky non-punishable joke to those with brains.

  20. Suze January 30, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Most instruments I can think of or own come in some type of case/box with LATCHES. I’m finding this whole situation and actions of the school so beyond brain dead.

    The kids should write a song for the accordion to commemorate this monuments blunder and call it “The Bomb Sniffers Polka.” (thanks folks; I’ll be here all week) 😛

  21. Julie January 30, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

    I am laughing. My Dad, Uncle and cousins had their own accordian quintet in the early ’60’s. I was a toddler and rember us all polka-ing our asses off at family gatherings. It was so much fun! Was there not a baby boomer in the entire building who could have identified the thing – in Nebraska? The accordian is practically the State Musical Instrument. Sweet Lady of Spain indeed!

  22. Dave January 30, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    Imagine if it had contained bagpipes, and all the conspiracy theories THAT would have inspired! The Scots are invading! Beware the “ladies from hell.” Where’s an English army when you need one?

  23. HotInLa January 30, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    God forbid they just open the box and see what’s in it…

  24. Travis January 30, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    @HotInLa “God forbid they just open the box and see what’s in it…”

    But that could make it explode (!!!)

  25. Yocheved January 30, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    Now bagpipes, on the other hand, clearly qualify as weapons of mass (eardrum) destruction!

  26. Yocheved January 30, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    LOL, I just read all the comments. I love that I’m not the only bagpipe hater around here!

  27. Liz January 30, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    Every musician is a mobster, keeping weapons inside of our cases! Better put in x-ray machines at the door of every music room!

  28. Donald January 30, 2016 at 3:11 pm #

    This bomb scare is a great example of the way people have become afraid of their own shadow. How much do panics like this cost? The suicide rate increases as the economy falters. Are we really saving lives by being so cautious?

  29. Ron Skurat January 30, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    Essentially they’re saying the the staff member & the police are completely ignorant as to what various instrument cases look like. Also, asking the band director didn’t occur to them either. Brilliant.

    Anyone learning the violin or viola should probably just leave it at home from now on, since obviously they’re trying to sneak a Tommy gun into school, just like the movies.


  30. Meg January 30, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    Have band rooms become targets of terrorism?

    I can understand a freak out if an odd box was left on a bus or at an airport….but a band room?

    This must be the neatest school in America, because when I was teaching, we had rooms that were filled floor to ceiling with random boxes of who-knows-what, usually leftover from the previous teacher, an old curriculum or a well meaning donation drive. Teachers are also notorious hoarders. I taught with a gal who still had boxes of mimeographed worksheets. We often joked that her storage room would be a great hiding place but terrible in an earthquake. We would have had to evacuate on the daily if someone had gotten a look at all her mysterious boxes!

  31. Backroads January 30, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

    I’m popping in to defend bagpipes.

  32. Jim P. January 30, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    Be nice if they provided a photo of this suspicious package. Bet anyone with decent band/orchestra experience could tell it was an instrument case.

  33. BL January 30, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    “I’m popping in to defend bagpipes.”

    Me too. As a regular patron of Highland Games and other Celtic festivals, I frikkin’ love bagpipes!

  34. BL January 30, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    As a bagpipe defender, I must tell an accordion joke:

    What happens after you die? One of two things:

    “Welcome to heaven. Here’s your harp.”

    … or …

    “Welcome to hell. Here’s your accordion.”

  35. Donald January 30, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    A box was found and nobody knew what is inside. It’s ‘safest’ to treat it as if it was a bomb. This may be an over-reaction but if it saves one child then it’s worth it.

    I disagree with this outlook. This is because it acts as if terrorism are the only dangers to consider. Teaching people to be afraid of their own shadow is also a danger. This is an example of bureaucracy becoming so dense that common sense no long applies. In fact, the music teacher may even have been fired if she didn’t blindly over-react. She is in the spotlight of this embarrassing situation. However now she has to tread carefully. If she makes any comments about this being ridiculous then she could get fired for insubordination! In short, she may be required to look stupid!

    Teaching people to be afraid of their own shadow is dangerous. However it’s also dangerous to blindly follow orders without though!

  36. Emily January 30, 2016 at 8:20 pm #

    I’m surprised that the accordion case wasn’t labelled. When I was in high school, the school lent/rented out instruments to music students, and each case would be labelled with what kind of instrument it was, and the number (for example, “Flute #1 would be FL 01, preceded by the initials of the name of the school), and it’d also have a sticker on it with that same code, plus the name of the student who it belonged to (usually for the duration of the time that that student played that instrument, so, often for his or her entire high school career). Large, shared instruments like tubas and string basses followed the same convention, minus the name stickers. Students with personal instruments wouldn’t necessarily label them, because it wasn’t common (since they cost thousands of dollars), but we all knew who had what, and who played what, especially with the less-common instruments. So, besides the fact that any music teacher worth his or her salt should be able to easily recognize an instrument case, and should know his or her students well enough to know “Oh, yeah, that accordion belongs to Jimmy Jones; he’s in grade seven,” if the accordion belonged to the school, then the school should have been more vigilant in labelling and keeping track of their instruments.

  37. Diana Green January 30, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

    Nebraska, as in Willa Cather? O Pioneers! Not one but two cases of mass hysteria in under twenty years!

    This is proof positive that modern namby-pamby parenting is wrecking an entire generation of school kids.

    Worst-first thinking. No one in the music department ever saw the box before?
    Couldn’t take a selfie of the box and post it to musicians? Couldn’t just reach up and take it down and have a look?

    It wasn’t Texas, for goodness sake, or a clock!
    Fear anxiety and stupidity are out of control. I grew up in the mid-west. Believe me, it didn’t used to be like that. What a terrible shame.
    We were once proud and brave and strong. Who benefits from hysteria? The police? Big Brorher will protect your babies, Mamas, so you can sleep soundly at night.

  38. sexhysteria January 31, 2016 at 4:15 am #

    That’s nothing. My school was evacuated due to a dangerous-looking drumstick.

  39. J.T. Wenting January 31, 2016 at 4:51 am #

    Makes perfect sense to close the school for an instrument case.
    After all, in the movies those always contain weapons.
    In 1920s gangster movies violin cases typically contained tommyguns rather than violins.
    In at least one movie a sword was contained in I think it was a flute case.
    There was a sniper rifle in a cello case in a James Bond movie.
    I remember seeing a movie where a bow with some arrows was stored in an instrument case.

    So why not assume that an accordion case holds a boms?

    And then there’s the fact that accordions are instruments of aural mass extermination…


  40. David January 31, 2016 at 6:42 am #

    @Betsy In Michigan: Nobody with brains is allowed to work in the schools, school board policy

  41. Warren January 31, 2016 at 7:32 am #

    This whole “if it saves just one child” crap is backwards. You have a suspicious box or package in a school the logical thing to do is find the one student nobody likes and send him or her into open it.

    Win Win.

  42. Warren January 31, 2016 at 7:36 am #

    Let’s get something straight. The Tommy Gun in the violin case is pure Hollywood. Typically the Tommy Gun was used for drive-by’s or slaughters, and only came out for those.

    The preferred weapons of the mafia back then were a double barrel sawed off shotgun. Easily concealed under a coat and very effective in close quarters. And the baseball bat. Deadly and perfectly legal to be carried anywhere.

  43. Emily January 31, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    >>This whole “if it saves just one child” crap is backwards. You have a suspicious box or package in a school the logical thing to do is find the one student nobody likes and send him or her into open it.

    Win Win.<<

    Warren, you surely can't mean that, but I'd go for the "box in the music room probably contains something for music" line of logic. After all, if someone really wanted to hide a bomb in a school undetected, they'd do a better job of being inconspicuous, by hiding the bomb in a decoy backpack, or a hollowed-out book, or some other, similar item that most people would expect to find in a school.

  44. Papilio January 31, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    If y’all hate bagpipes so much, you must not know these things…: YOU try to shop with one of those nearby!

    I think I like bagpipes more than accordeons… but that’s probably because I have heard a bit too much Dutch folk music (like Americans who HATE country music, I guess) while not having the same history with Scottish and Irish music.

    However, Lenore, I do love this:

  45. Papilio January 31, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    “This whole “if it saves just one child” crap is backwards. You have a suspicious box or package in a school the logical thing to do is find the one student nobody likes and send him or her in to open it.”

    But what if that’s the high-gifted kid who may cure cancer/aids/dementia in the future? 🙂

  46. J.T. Wenting January 31, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    “Let’s get something straight. The Tommy Gun in the violin case is pure Hollywood. Typically the Tommy Gun was used for drive-by’s or slaughters, and only came out for those.”

    I know that, you know that. Do you really think your average school administrator or properly unionised and tenured teacher knows that?

  47. J.T. Wenting January 31, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    “This whole “if it saves just one child” crap is backwards. You have a suspicious box or package in a school the logical thing to do is find the one student nobody likes and send him or her in to open it.”

    in other words the only kid in school who’s not an utter moron sure to vote for the proper politically correct issues…

  48. ECB January 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

    OK, you do realize that the staff members at Walnut Middle school don’t have X-ray vision right? All they knew was that a box that nobody could recall seeing before somehow ended up in the band room. I looked at the article, and there didn’t seem to be any pictures of this box. So, why is everyone assuming that it was an accordion case that the band teacher was just too stupid to identify? Isn’t it also possible that the kid who owns the accordion damaged the original case, put the accordion in a different container, and then placed it back in the band room without telling anyone?

    As for not making an announcement to find out who put the box there or something of that sort, once again—they don’t know what’s in the box. Although the odds of it being a bomb are extremely low, there’s no reason to believe that it couldn’t possibly be a bomb. If that’s a possibility, however slim, then wouldn’t it also be a possibility, at least in their minds, that this bomb is connected to a timer with five minutes left on it? For all anyone at the school knew, they had to get the students out of the building ASAP.

  49. BL January 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    ” If that’s a possibility, however slim, then wouldn’t it also be a possibility, at least in their minds, that this bomb is connected to a timer with five minutes left on it? ”

    By that thinking, none of us would dare go anywhere outside our own homes (if even there) without a bomb squad.

  50. Peter January 31, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    I don’t know if it was in “an accordion case”, but I do know that if you don’t want somebody to steal your musical instrument, you put it in an accordion case.

    Barum bum.

  51. Warren January 31, 2016 at 9:08 pm #


    You are confusing paranoia for logic.

  52. pentamom February 1, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    ECB — there’s also a possibility, however slim, that someone could have hidden a bomb under a teacher’s desk somewhere in the school with a timer set to go off in five minutes.

    What now, just never let kids go into schools?

    If your thinking goes from “there’s a box, I don’t know what’s in it” with *absolutely no other indication of threat* to “we must treat it according to the possibility that it is a bomb,” your thinking is disordered and you will never, ever accomplish anything in life if you actually follow through with that kind of logic. Any car you don’t recognize could be trying to run you down. Anyone around you in public might be five seconds from opening fire. Logically, you can’t get out of bed.

    I trust you don’t follow through with that kind of thinking, so perhaps you need to reconsider whether it’s sound.

  53. Bruce Elniski February 1, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    Awesome story. It shows just how paranoid some have become. Always assuming the worst is a great way to express this phrnomena.

  54. Jenna K. February 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

    I guess I don’t err on the side of caution because if I had been the staff member, I would have opened the box to see what was inside. Wouldn’t the music teacher, or someone in the music department, have known about the accordion?

  55. Steve February 1, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    How about the danger of playing an accordion while on roller-blades?

  56. ECB February 1, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    I’m sorry if my post came off as overly paranoid, that wasn’t my intention. I guess the point I was trying to make was that it’s not really fair to ridicule the staff members of this school just because that box turned out to contain an accordion instead of a bomb. Like I said, they didn’t know that at the time. If there had been a bomb, everyone would probably be praising them for their handling of a dangerous situation.

    Also, I think it’s possible to recognize that overall things are pretty safe, but at the same time acknowledge the possibility of danger and take some precautions. I’m guessing that the majority of you wear seatbelts and have smoke detectors in your homes. I’m also guessing that the majority of you have never been in a serious car accident or had a house fire. I think the situation with the “bomb scare” is like that.

  57. Vicki Bradley February 2, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    Great title!

  58. Christine February 2, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    This reminds me of a lockdown we had on a college campus where I worked. We received the appropriate notification (email, text, and phone calls to both office and cell phones) warning us that someone with an assault rifle had been spotted on campus and we should all immediately seek shelter cowering away from windows. We were even on the local news, a perky news caster standing on campus (apparently the shooter wouldn’t dare attack on live television) sharing a grainy photo of the suspect. It all came to a head when the suspect turned himself in. Apparently he had been sitting in a classroom, locked down and hiding like the rest of us, when someone in his class noticed that the perpetrator was sitting right next to them-his black umbrella on the floor next to his backpack. Yup. We were all locked down and cowered (well I was actually hanging out in the lobby chatting with coworkers) because there was a chance of rain and someone had opted to carry a-gasp-umbrella. I guess the only thing that can stop a bad guy with an umbrella is overreaction from administration and the media.

  59. Donna February 3, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    “I’m guessing that the majority of you wear seatbelts and have smoke detectors in your homes.”

    Yep to seatbelts. No to smoke detectors (well, they are in the house, however the batteries were removed and never replaced about 5 years ago).

    “I’m also guessing that the majority of you have never been in a serious car accident or had a house fire.”

    The average driver gets into 10 car accidents during their driving life (according to the defensive driving class I had to take for work). I don’t know anyone who has NEVER been in a car accident, including most of the children that I know. Almost every adult that I know has had at least one vehicle totaled. I’m not sure why you think seatbelts are only important in a serious car accident. I am pretty happy that the seatbelt stopped me from flying into the stearing wheel when I got rear-ended, even though it was never going to be a life-threatening injury.

    Same for house fires pretty much. Most everyone I know has set something on fire in their kitchen at least once. I was working from home this weekend and completely forgot I was cooking my kid a grilled cheese. Apparently she forgot too. The results were not pretty.

    “I think the situation with the “bomb scare” is like that.”

    The difference is that random bombs in school are not a common daily occurrence unlike car wrecks and even small house fires. In fact, I don’t know that a bomb has ever been found in a school. Certainly not during my schooling or my daughter;s schooling, nor do I know anyone who ever attended a school where a random bomb was found. False bomb scares are incredibly common. Bombs simply being left unannounced in a school unconnected to anything else have never occurred.

  60. James Pollock February 3, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    “Bombs simply being left unannounced in a school unconnected to anything else have never occurred.”

    A few minutes with the Google says otherwise:

    The Columbine kids had made bombs, too.

    Seriously, I agree with you that hoaxes vastly outnumber genuine threats, but that’s mainly because it’s much easier to make a phone call than an explosive device. But home-made explosives are not THAT hard to build.