O’Brien Field overflowed with music Saturday

A student from Centralia High School plays the baritone Saturday during the 35th annual Panther Marching Band Festival on O'Brien Field. 29 schools competed, Centralia taking 3rd place in the Class 2A section. (Kimberly Foster | The Daily Eastern News)

By Samantha McDaniel/Activities Editor

Eastern’s O’Brien Stadium was filled with competitive music and 29 high school marching bands Saturday.

The Panther Marching Band sponsored its 35th annual Panther Marching Band Festival for Illinois’ high schools to come see how their bands compare with others.

The 29 high schools that participated in the festival were split into one of four sections that were based off of the number of participants of their band, 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A.

Each section consisted of six to eight bands who played songs ranging from “This is Halloween” from the Nightmare Before Christmas to “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.

Awards for the best drum major, best auxiliary, outstanding percussions, general affect, best visual, best music selection, first, second, third place and participation awards were given to each section throughout
the day.

Alan Sullivan, interim director of bands and director of the Panther Marching Band and the Eastern Wind Symphony, said for his first year he thinks the day went really good.

“It went very smooth,” Sullivan said. “The day just seemed to go really smoothly. Except the wind, we didn’t have any problems with the weather. And with the 29 bands, it went well.”

Sullivan said he hopes the band learned something from the competition.

“I hope they learn from the judges’ comments and continue their musical education and learn from it,” Sullivan said.

Wendy Ronna, the director of the Hoopeston Area High School marching band, said she thinks her band did well.

“The competition is good to see how well you perform,” Ronna said. “In a competition like this, they have judges from all around who judge different parts of the performance, and their comments help the bands improve.”

The Hoopeston marching band took first place in the 2A section of the competition.
Wyatt Roberds, the director of the Granite City Marching band, said his bands performance was their best so far.

“We don’t care where they place as long as it was better than the last one,” Roberds said. “I tell them if you compete better (last) Friday night than today, then you lose. If you do better you are champions.”

Roberds said that while his band is competing with other bands, the real competition is with themselves.

Rodney Embrey, a Chatsworth resident, said he thinks the bands learn discipline and teamwork through competitions like the festival.

“They have to work as a team to do the routine and if they don’t have discipline it messes up the whole team,” Embrey said.

The other first-place winners were Atwood-Hammond for 1A and Mahomet-Seymour for 4A.

The second place winners were Oak Valley for 1A, Tri Valley for 2A, Champaign Centennial for 3A, and Normal for 4A.

The third place winners were LeRoy for 1A, Centralia for 2A, Robinson for 3A, and Champaign Central for 4A.

Sullivan said he hoped the bands had fun, whether they won or not.

“I am hoping they had a really enjoyable time on the Eastern Illinois University campus,” Sullivan said. “I hope they remember these memories and being able to perform in front of a big crowd.”

Samantha McDaniel can be reached at 581-7942 or slmcdaniel@eiu.edu.

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