My brother and I were the best of friends when we were in elementary school in Burbank during the mid 1960s. But that changed after I started Muir Middle School and went on to Burbank High School in the '70s. We barely saw one another, even though the doors to our rooms were 12 feet apart.
Little did I know that while I was getting involved with the high school drill team, he had joined a boys' marching band in town. One day a friend called looking for my brother and my mother said he was on a band trip in Minnesota with the Burbank Police Boys Band. When he returned, he was bubbling over with excitement about the adventures they had had.
After I started driving, I took him to band practice on Monday nights and sometimes stayed to listen. I felt right at home because the band director was Bill Kuzma, the director of the high school band. The mutual love of marching music had brought my brother and I back together.
Close to 30 of us will be reunited Saturday night at the Police Boys Band reunion. It is organized by Kuzma and majorette Joanne Lento Miller. There'll be reminiscing about the adult leaders over the years, the trips, friendships and romances, and at the end of the evening, members will pull out their musical instruments and play the band's unofficial theme song, “South Rampart Street Parade.”
Kuzma has put together a slide show chronicling the band's history since its inception in 1953 that will chronicle its evolution into the Burbank Police Youth Band. Accompanying the slide show will be music the band recorded at many of its anniversary concerts. Selections range from traditional marches to contemporary songs like “The Stripper” and “Tommy,” from Peter Townshend's rock opera of the same name and, of course, the band's signature piece, “South Rampart Street Parade,” arranged especially for the band by trumpeter Art DePew, who was a member of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.
The band is very fortunate to have photographs provided by Cregan Marmont, one of the band's charter members, Kuzma said.
“The slide show also includes pictures and materials from many of the band's performances throughout California and the western United States, including one for President Gerald Ford. It is hoped that this will bring back many great memories for members, as well as honor the band's outstanding history as the Musical Ambassadors for the city of Burbank,” he said.
The band also had many outstanding young people as part of its history who worked extremely hard to make the band and its auxiliary units such an outstanding organization, including film director Tim Burton and TV's Anson Williams, Kuzma said. Many band members went on to become professional musicians.
“On a personal note, I was honored just to be a band member when I joined, and then very privileged to serve as its director,” Kuzma said.
For reservations, call Miller at (818) 841-2345.
Scholarship winner focuses on photos
Delia Akbari, 20, of Burbank, was one of many Glendale Community College students who received scholarships in June at the annual Honors and Awards Banquet at the Castaway Restaurant.
Akbari, a 2009 graduate of Burbank High School, received the Teresa Del Rio Memorial Scholarship. She is in her second year at GCC and is majoring in photography and website design. She wants to transfer to the Academy of Arts in San Francisco.
“I've loved photography since I was a kid,” she said, adding she used her father's film camera capturing family at home and on vacations.
Today, her favorite subjects are landscapes, architecture, people and “anything,” she said.
Akbari, who has two part-time jobs, had to work hard to raise her GPA so she would be eligible for a scholarship, she said. Math was a struggle.
“I just studied more — no parties,” she quipped.
Akbari is a great student and great contributor on campus, said Paul Schlossman, dean of student affairs.
“She has been employed in the Student Activities and Student Affairs office and has been a student leader involved in student government and other clubs for the last two years,” he said. “She also founded the Photography Club on campus.”
The Teresa Del Rio Memorial Scholarship was started by Anna and Fernando Del Rio, parents of Teresa Del Rio, a GCC student who was shot to death on June 7, 1999 while driving with a girlfriend in Los Angeles. KABC Talk Radio donated the start-up funds and Teresa's parents and individuals have continued to fund the scholarship over the years, said Anna Del Rio.
“Her father and I created the scholarship with the help of others to bring attention to gun violence and how it destroys lives, and to help organizations to stop gun violence in our communities,” she said.
JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.