Carroll high school bands keep balance in snow-slicked regional contest

SCRANTON, PA. — SCRANTON, Pa. -- Although "Let It Snow" was not a featured song, Liberty and South Carroll had plenty of the white stuff to contend with during their field shows at Sunday's Atlantic Coast Tournament of Bands Championship.

A short, intense snowstorm greeted Liberty's band as it marched on field at the Lackawanna County Memorial Stadium near Scranton. Liberty members ignored the snow squall and gave a performance which earned a score of 91.95 from the judges and eighth-place honors among the 27 Group III high school bands in the band tournament.


Although South Carroll's Cavaliers were ready to take the field in competition after Liberty's performance, a delay of nearly an hour forced band members back on their buses as officials attempted to clear portions of the field.

Despite the snow and ice that remained on the field when the contest was continued, South Carroll's band marched and maneuvered to a score of 90.45 for their 15-minute field show and placed 14th in the Group III category.


Westminster, meanwhile, scored 82 points Saturday to take 20th place out of 25 bands in Group IV for the units with the most members.

Marching in snow was a new experience for South Carroll High School junior Stephen Ritchie.

"It was just fun," said Stephen, who plays the baritone. "The best part was the snow . . . and just the fact we made [the championship] says a lot for our band and that we are among the top 15 in the Atlantic Coast."

Everyone was very worried about falling, said Liberty sophomore Susan Lantz, who plays the clarinet.

"We couldn't see the lines," she said.

The snow-covered field was "very slippery," said Liberty sophomore Tony Trummert of Eldersburg.

"I just hoped nobody fell," said Tony, who added that participating was important to Liberty. "It meant we got a chance to compete against bands from other states and prove we are a band of equal power against other chapter champions."

Liberty High parent Walter Owens said, "This is the Super Bowl of bands. There are no losers here tonight; the bands are the top 1 percent in nine states. It's a tough competition, and there's nobody here who doesn't belong here."


Group IV bands -- which have the largest numbers of instrumentalists -- competed on a clear, cold winter-like Saturday.

"We were in the most competitive group," said Les Douglas, band director.

Mechanicsburg (Pa.) High placed first in the group, for bands of 80 or more musicians, with a score of 97.6.

"We are very pleased with our performance," said Mr. Douglas. "It was the best we have done all year, and it was against a lot of good bands."

Mr. Douglas said "just going" to the Scranton competition, in which 100 bands vie for top scores, "is an honor in itself." The Owls have earned the right to perform at the final competition of the fall season 11 times in the past 12 years.

Carroll County should be proud to have three of its five high school marching bands invited to participate in the Atlantic Coast Championship, said South Carroll High School band director Brad Collins.


"This is indicative of how well our people -- our music teachers -- are doing, from elementary school to middle school to high school," said Mr. Collins, who has been the band director at the school for seven years. "We take our hats off to all the teachers."

The tournament is the culmination of the 1992 band season for 397 high school groups from New Jersey to North Carolina who are grouped in four categories based on their number of instrumentalists.