Summer break? Hardly.
Members of the Hastings High School marching band have been hard at work all summer, spending a week at a camp and traveling to play at three parades. Now, their focus turns to the competitive field season, which kicks off in Hastings with a preview show at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at Todd Field. That event is free and open to the public and will feature the group's new show, "Undercover."
Work began in December to choose a theme and get everything in order.
"When the kids are done with marching band, we keep working," said one of the directors, Emily Chandler.
The "Undercover" title was chosen, and the story revolves around a spy theme.
"In marching band, at least in the midwest, it's theater on a football field," Chandler said.
To that end, the band essentially chases down members of the color guard during the show. The color guard members are the spies and they are trapped at the end of the show in six-foot-high chain link fences, which move around the field.
"It's this little cat-and-mouse thing," Chandler said. "The kids really like it."
In all, 82 students make up the band.
MacKenzie Ritchie is a senior co-captain of the color guard. For her, being a member of the marching band in Hastings is, honestly, a dream come true. She was living in Greeley, Colo., and was at a parade when she saw the Hastings marching band come walking past. She knew at the time that her family was moving to Hastings and she told her father, "I'm going to be in that someday."
Her family moved here, she signed up and hasn't looked back. She doesn't play an instrument, so the color guard was a good fit for her.
"I just love doing it," she said. It keeps me in shape. It's really fun because of all the girls. It's an awesome experience -- I love all the people I get out hang out with."
Last year, Ritchie went back to Greeley with the Hastings marching band and marched in that same parade. She saw all kinds of familiar faces along the route.
"I got a ginormous hit of pride," she said. "I got to show all my old friends, 'This is what I'm doing now. This is what I'm proud of.'"
There are 12 members of the color guard this year, and Ritchie is excited about the role the guard plays this year.
"This is my favorite show we've had," she said. "We have a theme to play off, and the color guard is basically some of the bad guys. We have one soloist who is being chased around by the band the entire show. We all end up in jail at the end of the show."
Freshman Sarah Stoffel remembers sitting in the stands watching her older sisters in marching band, and she knew at that time she wanted to be a part of the group.
"I'd go to their shows every year, and I was in awe of how amazing it is," she said. "I really wanted to do it."
She joined band in fifth grade and plays baritone.
She was along during the summer parade season, which included the parades in Hastings, Lakeville and River Falls, Wis.
"I just like when you were walking by and the crowd was so enthusiastic that you were there," she said. "You could just be walking by, and they'd clap for you."
Chandler sees all kinds of familiar faces in the band. She teaches music and band at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School.
"Some of these juniors and seniors I've had since first grade," she said. "It's fun to see them grow and transform."
Chandler said that the support the group gets from parents is what makes the elaborate show possible.
"The parents volunteer for everything," Chandler said. "We take 10 to 12 parents to every performance. They load trailers, keep the kids hydrated, donate money and put the props together. We couldn't do it without the parents."
One parent, Bruce Cargin, drove the group's 30-foot trailer to almost all their shows this summer and will do the same this fall.
"He donates his time and money for the gas," Chandler said. "That's a huge commitment. The parents are just fantastic. It's amazing how much they do."
The 2013 Raiders Marching Band Staff includes the following people:
Directors: Emily Chandler, Thomas Wentzler
Percussion staff: Josh Wahlstrom, Joe Holmes
Colorguard staff: Amanda Flom, Alice Flom, Lindsey Wetterhahn, Melanie Cordell
Visual staff: Jake Bohlken
Visual tech: Elizabeth Hardy, Abbie Zuzek
Music composition: Gary P. Gilroy Publications
Drill Arrangement: Joel Matuzek
Percussion Arrangements: Mark Diischer, Josh Wahlstrom
The 2013 Drum Major is Ben Ventry
Soloists are Tori Nordine-Guard, Michael Notch-Trumpet, Sami Kopf-Mellophone, Jonas Sahouani-Trombone.
The preview show
This year's preview show is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at Todd Field. The event is free and open to the public. There will be concessions available.
In case of inclement weather, the event will be held at the high school.