The Newsday Marching Band Festival: I Was There!

The Newsday Marching Band Festival was the culmination of several months of work by the Three Village Patriot Marching Band. One member writes his experiences.


Darren Tung, Staff Writer

On Wednesday October 19, the Three Village Patriot Marching Band, led by Ward Melville band director Laura Gustavsen and assistant director Dan Hayes, traveled to Mitchell Field near Hofstra University in Garden City to perform at the 54th annual Newsday Marching Band Festival, a three-day, non-competitive festival said by Newsday to “feature Long Island’s greatest high school marching bands.” Because I am a part of the marching band myself, I would like to discuss what we did on that day, the day that all the work put in since last May built up to.

Immediately after school on the 19th, we all had dinner in the cafeteria, which couldn’t have been made possible without the assistance of volunteer parents, who both made and served the food. It was during this time that Mrs. Gustavsen and Mr. Hayes called up the section leaders, and our drum majors, Rohan, Kavya, and Connor to allow them to be recognized for all of their efforts to making the marching band fun and productive. It’s also Mrs. G’s last year running the band for twenty years years, as she is retiring at the end of this school year.

Following dinner, we got changed into our full uniforms, and boarded the buses to Mitchell Field. We got to our destination early, however, since we arrived around 5:30PM, and the festival doesn’t begin until 7:00. Nevertheless, the excitement of both opening the festival with the “Star Spangled Banner”, and showing the audience the work the band put in for the past five months was worth the wait. You can listen to both our performance of the national anthem and our “Video Games Live” show in the links below. Both performances are phenomenal, and a representation of how far the band has come.

Since we were third in the lineup, we got to view most of the bands that came on the same day. A good chunk of the bands there were not technically “marching bands.” If you examine what some bands, like Three Village and Floral Park, do while performing music, they are often marching, while other marching bands come with a cheer-leading squad, and they stand still while the cheerleaders perform acts to the audience. The first few years of Three Village’s marching band actually featured the band standing still, according to Mrs. G. Many band members often joked “Wait, they’re actually marching!?” or “The band is moving!” when some bands actually marched.

The festival ended with the “Massing of the Bands,” an event where all bands that performed that night go out to the football field to go play “America the Beautiful.” Unfortunately, it was a train-wreck, mainly because it appeared that most groups didn’t bother to prepare for this very inconsequential event. Three Village did, but it still sounded awful. In fact, Newsday seems to acknowledge this as well, as the Massing of the Bands is the only part of the entire festival that has not been uploaded online.

With Newsday completed, we went back to Ward Melville. Arrival time: 11:15PM. Keep in mind that this was 15 minutes early. Two days later, after the conclusion of the final game, I asked Mrs. G for some closing thoughts on the marching band as a whole. She writes:

“The Newsday Festival gives the band the opportunity to perform at a Long Island wide event. The Three Village Patriot Marching Band is unique because it is voluntary and involves students from three different schools. The level of commitment, discipline, and talent is extraordinary in this group. The students are passionate about marching band and it shows in the high level of their performances. I am so very proud of all of them!”

Marching bands are mandatory for most band members throughout the country. Three Village’s concept of voluntary attendance allows the band to limit the people who join the band to those who are interested in the band. Although the group would like more members, the marching band is fine if you are not willing to commit. But for those who can, gladly join next year, which is when the band goes to Walt Disney World! No, that’s not a joke.

Link to all performances on the 19th at Newsday. Note that Three Village’s playing of the National Anthem was mistaken to be from Floral Park. Optimum ID or subscription to Newsday required: