By SHERIDAN CYR
The Southington Blue Knights Marching Band hosted their annual home competition Music of the Knight Saturday afternoon at the high school.
“This is really the event of the year for us,” said executive board president Dave Pestillo. “It’s our biggest fundraiser.”
Programs from across the state, and as far away as Massachusetts, travel to Southington High School to compete, according to Maria Huff, media relations person. Over 200 family and parent volunteers worked through the day. At the end of the day, over 50 marching band alumni escorted the Blue Knights onto the field.
The Blue Knights see the competition from an outsider’s perspective as they escort the competing bands to the field, help out at the concession stands, and see the other schools perform. At the end of the night, the Knights performed an exhibition, but were not included in the judging.
The event kicked off with performances by the local middle school bands from John F. Kennedy and Joseph A. DePaolo.
One of the chairpersons of the Band Backers, Erik Semmel, explained that the competition included 17 schools, two from Massachusetts. A panel of judges were brought in from as far as Miami.
“Since the band members aren’t competing, this is a great opportunity for them to see what other schools are doing,” said Semmel. “The exhibition gives them a chance for them to show off what they’ve been working on, too.”
The money raised through tickets and concessions funds all essential operations of the band, from equipment, to transportation, to trainers and more.
Music director Sarah Ossias reported the routine this year was officially complete in time for the event. “They’ve been working hard to get to this point, and this is just the beginning,” said Ossias. “Every week, they improve, become more adjusted, and continue to get stronger.”
“This home show is always the best. It’s just full of energy,” said one of the color guard captains, Torri Sperry. “Being a part of the band has made me a better leader, and I wouldn’t be the same person without it.”
Noah Barber commented that he’s made many valuable friendships through the band. “It’s a lot of fun, and it feels good to be getting a little smarter each week.”
Cassie Noonan said her involvement has allowed her to grow as a person. “You learn so much about leadership, responsibility and teamwork. It’s always a new experience.”
The Knights will compete in NE State Open Championships this Friday, Oct. 28 at Arute Field at Central Connecticut State University, New Britain.
Locals still have three more chances to see the Knights perform on their home field. The team will perform at halftime of the Blue Knight varsity football games against East Hartford this Friday and against Enfield on Nov. 3.
The Knights will also hold a veterans’ concert at the high school on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. Eagle Scout Jimmy Starr, who organized and funded the mural project across the American Legion building, will be honored for his work on the project.
Admission is $5 and proceeds go towards Rocky Hill Veterans Home Christmas.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by TAMMI NAUDUS