Several California cities celebrated Veterans Day without one of the most integral parts of a parade — marching bands.
The drumrolls and waving banners of the Central Valley’s high school and junior high marching bands were holding their own honor for veterans by competing in the 58th annual Central California Band Review at Golden Valley High School. This year, the competition happened to fall on Veterans Day and the same day several communities hosted festivities.
The competition Saturday pitted dozens of high school marching band groups in a march off on East Childs Avenue, south of Golden Valley High, in front of thousands of friends, family members and onlookers who cheered as each band made its way to the judging table. Local schools mixed in with those from as far as San Ramon, Santa Cruz, Danville and Roseville.
“It’s nice because we get to see each other compete,” said 17-year-old Sebastian Jimenez, who plays with the Golden Valley Cardinal Regiment.
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Nathan Weiss plays the bass drums for the Santa Cruz Cardinal Regiment. He said he was missing participating in his local Veterans Day parade. But the band competition was a fun experience to travel for.
Weiss said the band had to leave at about 5:30 a.m. from Santa Cruz to arrive in Merced for the competition. He said it was one of the largest band reviews he’s participated in.
Merced County held its annual Veterans Day parade in Merced at the same time as some of the city’s high school bands were competing in the competition. Some schools, such as Livingston High School, attended the competition instead of the parade.
“It is disappointing they couldn’t figure out a different weekend for this band review,” said Mario Arroyo, the Livingston High School percussion instructor.
However, Arroyo agreed the students weren’t necessarily missing out on Veterans Day because the Central California Band Review has its own long history of honoring veterans.
The Central California Band Review, the second longest running band review in the state, started out as the original Veterans Day parade in Merced decades ago, organizer Kirsten Shulley said.
The decision to hold the Central California Band Review on Saturday was set several months in advance, Shulley said, adding that organizers understood that some bands wouldn’t be able to participate in their hometown parades.
It would have been difficult to change the band review to a different date due to the demanding schedules of the students.
“Even if we could have moved it, I don’t think we would have,” Shulley said, noting that the band review actually served as an alternative event for veterans in the community to check out.
Organizers also worked harder this year to make sure students know the Central California Band Review is more than just about which marching band is the best, Shulley said.
The program for the event included a dedication to veterans from when the band review first started. Shirts and other materials also mentioned the musical salute to veterans through competition.
“Everything is tied in together about how it’s important that we honor these people,” Shulley said, “Even if all we can do is through playing for them.”
Organizers did not release the official results of the competition.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562