In just a few short hours, the lights at Alumni stadium will be shining on eight area marching bands as they each take the field during the Celebration of Bands to perform carefully choreographed setpieces that combine musical ability with the discipline and concentration necessary to stay in formation.
Competitors coming from Pennridge, , Cherry Hill East, and , Pottstown and Neshaminy will battle for awards in categories such as best drum major and best band front. The winner of best overall effects will receive a sepcial Marine Corps Flag, according to Mark Witzigman, chairman of the Celebration of Bands committee of the William Tennent Marching Band Association.
Since Tennent is the host school, the band does not get judged with the rest of the field. Even though the marching band hits the field as an exhibition performance at the end of the night, musical director Joseph Lovecchio says his students still feel the pressure to put on a good show for the hometown crowd.
"The stands are filled with a lot of out of town visitors, and we want to make a good impression," said Lovecchio. While he has been preparing the bandmembers' performance based on the magical world of Harry Potter, a finely tuned machine of parent volunteers have been working to ensure the rest of the day goes smoothly.
"We're here to back up Joe and make sure people aren't running up to him in the middle of the show saying we're out of water," said Witzigman. "He shouldn't be worrying about that stuff."
On Thursday night, Witzigman met with the more than 70 volunteers to go over their committee assignments and make one last run through of everybody's duties. Parents were split up into eight different groups, including volunteer management, parking, security, concessions, greeters & guides, tickets hospitality and novelties. Witzigman feels everybody is prepared for an expected crowd of 1,200 people and expects this year's show to run a little smoother than the past couple years.
"Well, two years ago we had to deal with rainy weather," Witzigman said. "Last year, construction equipment made parking a real challenge. We had supplemental parking at McDonald-Davis and shuttles bringing people back and forth."
Lovecchio and Witzigman stressed the importance of hosting the show despite the fact the band won't be eligible for any awards. The school will benefit from the publicity, the bandmembers will gain confidence from the support of the local community, and the marching band program will take advantage of ticket and merchandise sales.
"This is our biggest fundraiser of the year," said Lovecchio. "It's important we get as much out of it as we can."
The gates open at 6 p.m., with adult tickets costing $8 ($5 for students). Performances begin at 7 p.m. The schedule is the following:
7:20 Harry S. Truman
7:40 Cherry Hill East
8:00 Council Rock South
8:50 Council Rock North
9:30 William Tennent