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HHS marching band returns from Michigan ready to compete

Members of the Hastings Raiders marching band pose for a group photo. The band traveled to Michigan recently to perform at the National Cherry Festival. Submitted photo

Like all athletic teams or musical ensembles, the Hastings High School marching band is accustomed to long hours of practice. In the summer, they use their rehearsal time to prepare for their field shows, where they compete with other marching bands. Last year, they proved that practice makes perfect when they won a Class A state championship title at the Youth in Music Marching Band State Championships in Chanhassen. In hopes of defending that title in the 2014 championships, the marching band has been hard at work learning their choreography and music for upcoming competitions.

The first opportunity they have to show off their skills is during the summer parades, which they use as a training ground for field shows. Most recently, the marching band traveled to Michigan for the National Cherry Festival, at which they performed twice as the only Minnesota band. The first parade was the Touchstone Energy Junior Royale Parade held Thursday, July 10, at 6:30 p.m., and the second parade was the DTE Energy Cherry Royale Parade held Saturday, July 12, at 11:15 a.m. Other parades the HHS marching band has participated in to get ready for their season have been the Lake City Water Ski Days Parade and the Rivertown Days Parade. The Michigan National Cherry Festival Parades were a slight challenge for the marching band, which was a great way to finish the parades for the summer.

“It was crazy performing in Michigan, their marching style is different from ours. They get show-band-y which is very entertaining, but our style is more militaristic.” said Laura Lunde, senior in high school and Drum Major this year. “I am very confident in our set though; we have what we call our Cobra drill, where the rows of the band weave in and out of each other like a snake, it’s pretty cool.”

Fourth year marching band veteran and baritone player Matthew Cater is confident in this year’s show as well.

“I think this show is even better than past years’ shows,” said Cater. This year’s show is called Olympus, full of references to Greek mythology. Its movements, Poseidon, Aphrodite and Zeus, all emulate the gods they were named after to create a “theater on a football field.” The seven-minute long show also features props to go along with the music. The drumline, band and colorguard combine to create a story musically and visually during performances, and keeping every note and step exact is a full time job. The director of the marching band, Emily Chandler, helps make sure the performances blow the audience away. The marching band camp from Tuesday, July 29 to Friday, Aug. 1, and Tuesday, Aug. 5, is crucial in memorizing the drill for parades, performances and competitions.

This year, the band camp members will be locked in the high school from Thursday, July 31 to Friday, Aug. 1 to participate in a traditional section talent show. Chandler is still looking for two parents willing to volunteer their time at the band camp lock-in this year. Next year, the band camp will not be held at the high school. Parents can also donate food or help with the meals for band camp; lists for food as well as the link for ALO accounts for fees and fines can be found on the marching band website.

For the kids, marching band is not just about the parades and competitions, but also about the time they get to spend with some of their closest friends.

“It’s not just the activity, it’s the people within that make it so great. The awesome music and the directors make rehearsal time like family time.” said Lunde. “It is unreal to lead a group like this.”

The marching band describes itself as a family, and their trip to Michigan could definitely be considered a vacation.

“It was a really long drive, and we got to cross Lake Michigan on a ferry,” Lunde said. “We also visited Six Flags, and had a kickball tournament with the seniors and staff versus the underclassmen. Guess who won?”

Lunde wasn’t the only one to have fun on the trip. Micah Walt, freshman and alto saxophone player, enjoyed being delivered breakfast by the chaperones.

“John Moes and Sean McAlpin homemade pancakes in the hotel lobby,” said Walt.

Along with team bonding and goofing off, the marching band’s 83 members have all prepared for the field show competitions, beginning Sept. 6 at Eden Prairie High School at noon and Eastview High School at 5 p.m. The competitions are open to the public, and continue with Rosemount High School on Sept. 13, Marshall High School on Sept. 20, Anoka and Champlin Park High Schools on Oct. 4 and finally their return to the Minnesota State Championships on Oct. 11 at Chanhassen High School.

According to Matt Cater, “competitions motivate (them) to do (their) best,” but for some, the performances at home matter just as much.

“Playing for family and friends is the best, because you can hear them cheering you on.” said junior and percussionist Tessa Nowlan. “I really enjoy the fall season because we in the pit (percussion) are close like family, and because we don’t have to march.”

The preview show for the fall season is at Todd Field on Wednesday, Sept. 3, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The show is free, and concessions will be available for purchase. For more information on the Hastings Raiders marching band, practice times or performances visit marching, or email director Emily Chandler at echandler@seas

Lydia Birt
Lydia Birt is the Hastings Star Gazette's summer intern. She is a 2014 graduate of Hastings High School and plans to study journalism at the University of Missouri this fall. She is part of the Pohlad internship program through the Minnesota Newspaper Association.
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