BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Put away your basketballs and brackets and get ready to toe-tap instead. This isn’t March Madness. It’s Ridge Marching Madness.

The annual marching band competition at Ridge High School, newly dubbed Ridge Marching Madness, is set for Saturday, Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. at Lee Field. A fall tradition since 2010, the competition showcases some of the finest musical and dance talent in New Jersey. This year’s program includes bands from 18 New Jersey high schools, a record for the event. 

Bands are grouped into six classes depending on size – they may have as few as 30 members or more than 130. But no matter their size, these bands are musically adventurous, unabashedly loud, and out to get the audience stirred up.

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“We pick challenging music and design ambitious color guard routines for the kids because we want to shine in these competitions,” said Daniel Zugale, who has been directing Ridge’s band for 10 years. “And the kids enjoy stepping up to the challenge, especially the combination of music and movement.”

The tension is thick at the end of the night when trophies are handed out based on scores given by specially trained judges. In a state championship competition last fall at Rutgers, the Ridge Marching Band missed out on the championship by mere hundredths of a point. The band was state champion in its class in 2015, and has consistently won or placed high in competitions for years. The ensemble won its first 2018 competition at Roxbury High School in late September.

Tickets for this year’s competition are available at the gate at Lee Field. For more information about the competition and the band’s entire season, go to www.ridgemarchingband.com.