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Band review coming back to Merced

A community institution, the Central California Band Review, is returning to Merced next month after three years in Madera.

Instead of being downtown or out at Merced College, uniformed middle school and high school band members will be marching and playing their instruments along Childs Avenue in front of Golden Valley High School.

Lee Pevsner, in charge of fundraising and publicity for the Golden Valley Band Boosters, said the Nov. 10 band review could end up with 40 bands competing. The band review, which started in the late 1950s, moved to Madera for its 2004-2006 events.

The Northern California Band Association, which supplies judges and other officials, asked Merced to take the event back, Pevsner said.

Pete Fluetsch, CCBR president in the event's early days, said many Mercedians were very disappointed when the band review went to Madera.

"I'm glad it's back in Merced; we had it here forever. It was a big event. At one time we had 52 bands," Fluetsch said.

The band review has the blessing and support of the Golden Valley Neighborhood Association. Its president, Joel Knox, said it's great to have a major entertainment venue in that part of the city.

"It's a wonderful idea; we're very happy with it. It's nice to have it back. We're glad to have an opportunity to participate," Knox said.

With the parade running down Childs Avenue, Knox said, it will draw the public's attention to the long-abandoned Century Bowl bowling alley at Parsons and Childs avenue which is "as disgusting as ever" and needs to be torn down.

Knox said South Merced residents are very receptive to the event and willing to endure a day's worth of inconveniences for the benefits it will bring.

Pevsner, band boosters' treasurer, confirmed there will be considerable cost savings this year from having the band review at Golden Valley rather than downtown Merced where there were extra expenses and logistical problems.

The band review, started by the late Fred A. Silveira in the late 1950s, first ran along West 17th Street, now Main Street. It was held one year on Yosemite Avenue in front of Merced College and then moved to West 18th Street before the shift to Madera for a three-year run.

Pevsner said local parents and band boosters enjoyed the Madera event and it's hoped the same kind of good time will be possible back in Merced.

Thirty-three Northern California bands already are scheduled and applications will be accepted through this month. Twenty-four bands are expected for the parade competition, another 10 for the jazz competition and another seven bands for the field show to be held that evening at Atwater High School.

Ken Harris, Golden Valley Band Boosters president, is thrilled with the move back to Merced.

"It's great. It's all coming together good and it sounds like everybody's getting behind it. The main thing is to get it (band review) back on solid footing and get it going forward. People seem to be getting excited," Harris said.

Frank Quintero, development manager for the city of Merced, said the city hasn't studied the economic benefits from hosting the band review but was confident out-of-town visitors to the event would help fill the coffers of various businesses, restaurants and gas stations.

Kim Cruz Marks with the Golden Valley Band Boosters said at least 2,500 people are expected to attend. Golden Valley will be the host band and won't compete in any of the events.

"We are excited to be hosting CCBR for the first time and hope to make it successful so as to keep it for many more years. We ask that the people of Merced County show their support by attending this great event and/or helping with donations," Cruz Marks said.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or