The Central California Band Review has friends in high places.
Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, was part of the San Joaquin Memorial High School Marching Band from Fresno and took part in Merced’s band review from 1967-70; he said the event is a great experience for all and terrific for high school students.
Forty-one bands from Northern and Central California will be performing Saturday during the 54th rendition of the Central California Band Review, started more than half a century ago as a tribute to veterans.
During his first two years with the band, Costa played the trumpet and cornet, switching over to the tuba in his last two years. He remembers the electric atmosphere in Merced’s Courthouse Park on those Saturday afternoons as the awards ceremony took place.
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The congressman recalled the bands marching on West Main Street and the sounds reverberating off the building walls. People lined up four to six deep to watch the band review, he said, and the ambiance would be hard to replicate.
“That (band review) was a kick,” Costa said. “It was cool. It was great fun. I’m glad it’s continuing.”
Now the band review takes place on Childs Avenue in front of Golden Valley High School. About 10,000 people, including band members, their parents and community members, watch the parade along Childs, the jazz competition inside the GV theater or the evening field show in Veterans Stadium that precedes the awards ceremony.
The Golden Valley Cardinal Regime Band is the host band and not in competition. GV Band Director Michael Vasquez said it’s always nice to get the community involved in what the school is doing.
“It’s all ready to go and everybody’s excited,” Vasquez said.
Jamie Hawks, event coordinator, said 41 schools are represented. There are 37 entries in the parade, 15 for the jazz competition and six competing in the field show.
“Overall, things are looking really, really good,” Hawks said. “Everything is lined up in place.”
Competing schools are from Merced, Atwater, Livingston, Winton, Los Banos, Gustine, Chowchilla, Turlock, Mariposa, Newman, Fairfield, Paradise, Ceres, Oakhurst, Benicia, Livermore, Hanford, Fresno, Concord, San Bruno, Danville, San Ramon and Santa Cruz.
The jazz competition starts at 8:25 a.m. and concludes at 3:05 p.m. The parade begins at 9:55 a.m. and concludes at 1:20 p.m. Middle school awards are at 2 p.m. and jazz-parade awards are at 4 p.m. The field show begins at 6 p.m., with awards at 8.
By the way, the congressman said he enjoys music “a lot” and still keeps his hand in by playing the piano when he gets the chance.