OGDENSBURG Drums boomed, flags twirled, horns blew and the crowd roared on the athletic field outside Ogdensburg Free Academy on Sunday as five schools gathered for the fifth annual Battle of the High School Bands, a part of the Ogdensburg International Seaway Festival.
Weve taken what every parade has got in the street and condensed it into a field competition, said Christopher S. Cole, Seaway Festival chairman.
Spectators waved signs and loudly cheered on their favorite bands, a regular occurrence for the battle, which fills the stands annually, according to Mr. Cole. Well pack it every year, he said.
The event began at 7 p.m. and admission was $3.
There are butterflies in your stomach when youre coming in. Its a big adrenaline rush, said Allison M. Crowley, who graduated from Lisbon Central School in June and plays the piccolo with the Lisbon Golden Knights. Ms. Crowley co-captains the band with saxophone player Matthew C. Snyder, who will be a senior this fall.
Our music was a lot better. It was very spot on, Mr. Snyder said.
Judges evaluated teams in a host of categories, including musicality, choreography and spirit.
Tonight is one of the big nights because its not like a parade. Its more like every band just trying to battle it out, said Samantha W. Hall, a junior who led the Morristown Marching Rockets.
The performance had special significance for Morristown. The band director, Jill A. Roberts, is leaving the school this year to take a job closer to her home in Waddington.
We wanted to go out and do our best for her, Ms. Hall said.
According to Ms. Roberts, the band has more music and tougher routines than ever before. This year, it performed a Led Zeppelin melody featuring Stairway to Heaven and other classics.
This is Ms. Robertss fourth time bringing Morristown to the Seaway Festival and she said its a highlight every year.
Its our favorite, she said.
The Ogdensburg Blue Devils enjoyed home-field advantage, playing a Wizard of Oz medley complete with costumes based on the movie.
Im pretty excited. I think everyone will do a good job. Everyones put a lot of work and effort into it, said Abby E. Marshall, a seventh-grader who plays the clarinet for Ogdensburg.
Ogdensburg took home first place in Class B, with the Heuvelton Marching Bulldogs taking second. Classes are based on the bands size. Morristown scored first in the smaller Class C, with the Edwards-Knox Flying Cougars in second.
Although every team was looking for a trophy, competition took the back seat to camaraderie.
Every school earned trophies in several categories, and some of the largest cheers came from the bands themselves, rooting for their fellow students.
Weve got five schools that are really putting their heart and souls into their band program, said Thomas A. Nicholas, assistant director of the Heuvelton Marching Bulldogs.