GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Three Georgetown High School orchestra students are featured in a Chick-fil-A television commercial airing across the country.
The students tell a story during the ad about playing an impromptu holiday concert inside the fast-food restaurant at Wolf Ranch Town Center nearly a year ago.
The commercial is part of Chick-fil-A’s “The Little Things” campaign, which highlights true stories from restaurants across the country.
The orchestra’s original plan, the students told KXAN, was to play during the annual holiday festival at the shopping center.
“So we get there, and it’s, like, raining and pouring, and it’s just really gross outside,” said Maria St. Clair, now a sophomore viola player at GHS and one of the three students in the ad.
Watch the ad below.
The rain was bad for their wooden instruments, so the class went to Chick-fil-A for a bite to eat. One of the managers there said they could play inside instead.
“It was great,” James Gonzalez, a senior violinist who was also in the commercial. “We did it in there, even though it was cramped, even though there was kids going back and forth.”
“We just moved chairs and tables and we squished ourselves in there,” said GHS orchestra director Barbara Hughston.
Someone, “I still don’t know who,” Hughston explained, sent the story to Chick-fil-A, and in April of this year, the chain flew her and the students to New York to shoot the ad.
‘I felt like God sent them my way’
The commercial also includes the manager who allowed the kids to play in the restaurant, Diane Battles. But she told KXAN at first she didn’t want them to perform inside.
“I really was not feeling Christmas last year,” she said.
In February 2018, Battles lost her oldest son, Justin, to a tragic accident. The 26-year-old’s truck slipped out of gear in his driveway, pinning him against his house in Bertram.
Last Christmas was Battles’ first without Justin. But despite the difficulty many families can relate to with facing a holiday after immense loss, something told Battles to allow the children to play in the restaurant.
“That was an angel,” she said. “I felt like God sent them my way.”
It turned into a “blessing,” she said, and a customer apparently felt it, too. He handed her $500 cash to start paying for other customers’ drive-through orders.
“I just felt like that’s what I needed” to get through the holiday without Justin, she said.
The next performance
The students felt the impact of their performance, too, despite the cramped atmosphere and the confused looks they got from unsuspecting customers.
“You could see immediately if they had a bad day…they were so happy afterwards,” said Nikki Carey, a sophomore violist and the third student in the commercial.
Now the orchestra is planning an encore at the restaurant, owned by Lance and Tammy Bennett. They’ll play at the Wolf Ranch Town Center location on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 4:45 p.m.
Battles will be there for that performance, too.