Marching bands converge on Prospect High School
It's not just football or basketball teams that can draw fans for spirited competition.
Despite the damp chill, Prospect High School's George Gattas Stadium was amped Saturday with its 19th annual Knight of Champions Marching Band Festival. Organized by the Prospect Band Boosters, the music bash featured 17 of the top marching bands in Illinois performing in 15-minute bursts.
Lake Park High School won the Class AAA segment of the competition; Wheeling High School took first place in Class AA; and Jacobs High School won Class A. Hersey and Naperville Central and North high schools also fared well, with Hersey placing second in Class AAA; and the two Naperville schools taking second and third in Class AA, respectively.
High school marching bands typically are in the spotlight at halftime of football games. However, Prospect High Marching Knights member Stefanie Aopp said the competitions are a chance to perform before appreciative crowds focused on the bands.
"Marching band is great because it's really a community-type thing," Aopp said. "Something our director (Chris Barnum) says a lot is that if we do well, that doesn't stop another band from giving a good performance. There's no defense, so we're all just kind of here to watch and see what other groups have put together."
Naperville North High School band parent Jim Lohr said he appreciates all the work the teenagers put into their performances. He said competitions such as Knight of Champions provides an opportunity for enjoyment and learning for the bands.
"It's fun to have an evening that's dedicated to the (band) kids and what they've all been working hard toward," Lohr said. "They enjoy seeing what all the other schools are doing and the different things. They pick up things they're not doing and vice versa."
Similar to other competitions, the Knight of Champions had 10 judges who scored areas such as visual and music effects, color guard and percussion.
As the host school, Prospect's renowned band didn't compete Saturday but played an exhibition for the crowd.
Last month, the Prospect Marching Knights snagged first place in Class AAA division and was declared grand champion at Wheeling High School's 47th annual Chicagoland Marching Band Festival. Prospect also won the 36th annual Lancer Joust marching band competition last month at Lake Park High School in Roselle.
Marching Knights member Celeste Caldrone said she was glad to host the 16 other schools in Mount Prospect.
"It's a lot more motivation for the (Prospect) students," Caldrone said. "I know a lot of them are really excited to be able to put on a performance and allow it to show them what we've got. I definitely know that by having the spotlight on Prospect, they're definitely excited to show the rest of our neighbor bands what we have and give them a little view of our season this year."
Next on the docket for some of the teenage musicians will be an invitational marching band championships at Illinois State University's Hancock Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 11.