Marching bands from 55 high schools and middle schools from across Northern California marched through Santa Cruz on Saturday for the 42nd Annual Santa Cruz Band Review, one of the largest and oldest in the state.
Each of the bands marched in musical lock-step from the starting point at Walnut and Lincoln streets, then down Center Street to the Beach Street "Free Play Zone," where the bands were set loose to jam to their hearts content while they traversed the Boardwalk. Judging stations were placed along the route where the bands were scrutinized for the form of their file, the precision of their percussion, and the timbre of their trumpets
For many schools, the Santa Cruz Band Review is the biggest performance of the year.
"We have been to two other band reviews, but this one was far more nerve racking," said a Alex Hensen, an 18-year-old trumpet player and senior at River Valley High in Yuba City. "We have practiced our song everyday for the past three weeks, seven days a week."
The practice payed off, according to a junior snare drummer at River Valley High.
"There really is a lot of competition. The band in front of us sounded phenomenal. But I feel we did really well for our first time here," he said.
Competition was tight, but friendly among the many visiting bands.
"Its been really friendly, actually. We have run into a lot of other people and we just laugh and joke," said Hensen.
Many school bands, like San Benito High in Hollister, did not practice as vigorously as River Valley, but made up for it in creative zest. Jim Zuniga, the school's music director, said he transcribed the band's song "Gangnam Style" from the original Korean pop song only the weekend prior to the review.
"They got it on Tuesday. They got it, learned it, perfected it on Thursday, and here we are today," said Zuniga.
After the bands finished their long march through the city, they stashed their instruments in the flotilla of school buses that brought them, swapped their uniforms for shorts and T-shirts, and flooded the Boardwalk with age appropriate jubulance, the perfect counterpoint to the rigid militarism of the marching bands.
"That's really the best part about this, is that we end up at the boardwalk," said the snare drummer from River Valley High.