Arts & Entertainment

Roxbury Marching Band Raising Cash for Hurricane Crushed Texas Counterpart

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Donations for a devastated Texas marching band will be collected at Saturday's marching band classic in Roxbury Credits: Sophia Solano
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ROXBURY, NJ - The Roxbury High School Marching Gaels are holding a fundraiser to benefit the Rockport-Fulton High School, a Texas school whose band department was completely destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

The fundraiser will take place during the Gaels’ annual Marching Band Classic at the high school in Succasunna Sept. 23. Donation jars can be found at both the concessions and ticketing stands throughout the event. Money collected in the jars will be donated to the devastated band department in Texas.

Though there is no monetary goal, the grand collective total will be announced at the end of the night during the awards ceremony. Drum majors, or student conductors, from all eight participating bands will present a check at this time.

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The school in Rockport, Texas was one of the hardest hit by the hurricane three weeks ago. Its band department lost everything, including music, instruments, music stands, chairs and other equipment. Rockport-Fulton High School’s academic year has been suspended indefinitely.

Many music departments around the country have “banded” together to support the recovery of the Texas school’s band. Monetary donations have been made nationally and a neighboring Texas high school’s marching band even filled in for the Rockport-Fulton students at a recent Friday night football game.

"The band students don't even know when they're coming back to school, let alone when they're going to be able to play again," said Kathleen Walsh, the Gaels' drum major. "I wouldn't want that to happen here so we're trying to help them get back on their feet. We all care about (band) so much and I couldn't imagine it being taken away from us by something beyond our control.so I want to be able to help people that's happened to. It's important for all of us to stick together because, as people say all the time, music is the only language that everybody speaks."

The Saturday event will be the ninth Roxbury Marching Band Classic, noted Pete Forester, publicity director for the Roxbury High School Band Parents Association (RHBPA).  The Classic is an invitational competition of regional High School Marching Bands from northern New Jersey.

Bands from Chatham, Mendham, Mount Olive, Morris Hills, Dover, Hackensack, Verona and West Orange will compete.

The Classic is hosted by the Roxbury High School Marching Gaels competition band, and the Roxbury Sound, which performs during halftime at all home football games. "The Roxbury Sound’s High Energy performance will close out the Roxbury Classic this year," Forester said.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. with a competition step-off time at 5:45 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 general admission, $8 senior citizens/students with ID, and free for children 4 years old and younger.

"The marching bands are judged against other ensembles within their category based on the number of marching musicians," explained Forester. "Each competing band is assigned a 15-minute time block during which they are required to enter the field, set up props and equipment, perform .... and exit the field. Weeks of intense practice and rehearsals precede competitions to achieve the highest level of performance as possible, musically and visually."

Roxbury resident and radio personality Bob Williams will serve as the voice of the event. There will be vendors offering candy and air grams, baked goods and more.

The event is hosted by the RHSBPA along with the High School instrumental program led for the first time by new Roxbury High School Band Director Jeffrey Conrad. The Marching Gaels and Roxbury Sound, who will be performing in non-competitive, exhibition mode, are also under the instruction of co-directors  Greg Boccuti and Ryan Sweer and associate director Shannon Perrone.

“We know that the band community is second to none, said Roxbury Marching Band Classic event co-chairs Beth Graf and Danielle Kovach. "Our hearts are big, we work hard and we love the music community. Our goal, as the RHSBPA, is to make a difference within the larger music community and teach our children that it is better to give than to receive.”

Editor's Note: Sophia Solano is a member of the Roxbury High School Marching Band.

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