Harlan Independent School’s marching band has just completed its competition season by advancing to state marching competition for the sixth consecutive year. Under the leadership of director Betsy Burkhart, the band had numerous accomplishments this fall including: First place Class A, Best Color Guard Class A, Best Percussion Class A at the Hazard Band of Gold Invitational; first place Class A, Best Color Guard Class A, Best Percussion Class A at the North Laurel Invitational; second place Class A at the Pulaski County Invitational where they also competed against all classes to be in the top 10. They finished 6th in the finals portion of the competition and won Best Overall Color Guard.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It’s time to don a costume, eat candy and generally be festive and funny. Typical activities include trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories and watching horror films.
How, you ask, do these two seemingly unrelated subjects belong together? Well, this year the HHS band chose “Dia de Muertos” (Day of the Dead) as the theme of its competition show. A Mexican holiday celebrated around the world, the festival focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. On Oct.31, All Hallows Eve, children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. Nov.1 is All Saints Day and Nov. 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds (the flowers of the dead); muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts and other traditional foods and decorations.
In keeping with the holiday, the marching Dragons open their performance with a “funeral” procession complete with a wooden coffin and “mourners” led by field commander Lanie Mavinidis dressed in a long black lace gown. Tombstones and an iron fence, cut from plywood and painted, adorned the field. Faces of band members are painted white on the right half with black makeup cleverly applied to resemble a skull. The color guard expertly handle rifles as well as flags in bright colors of pink, orange and yellow. The music runs the gamut from somber to rousing and features an exceptional trumpet solo by senior Jordan Whitman.
Another successful season has come to an end for the marching Dragons. They performed last weekend at the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) state competition in Louisville where they placed eighth in Class A. There is, however, one final opportunity for folks to see the award winning band in action. This Friday night, they will take the field for one last time with props, costumes, flags, uniforms and full makeup, at the final HHS football game.
Have a safe and fun Halloween and, if possible, join us at halftime for one last look at this year’s marching Dragons. It promises to be an exciting night for both band members and onlookers as well.