SENNETT | Katie Deloia, 17, has been a part of The Vanguard, Auburn High School's field marching band, for five years. Although she is graduating, she is concerned about the future of The Vanguard. Budget cuts combined with a large number of graduating seniors are threatening one of the highlights for Auburn High School's students.
"It's heart-breaking," Deloia said. "I want it to continue. If you go back a couple of years, the band was huge, 100 people. Now there's 50 or 60."
To raise money and awareness, locals came together at the Sennett firehouse Saturday to play music, eat and have fun — a day dubbed Battle for the Band. Connie Daloia, Nino Pellegrino, Paul Drake, Jeff Herrick and Dan Hill, the "band dads," began organizing the event in October. Hill, Drake and Daloia are musicians themselves and donated most of their instruments for the stage setting. Herrick, a volunteer firefighter, reserved the firehouse for the occasion. Speno Music donated a guitar for a raffle.
"With a possible $4.5 million deficit in the budget, as band parents, we will be prepared for sustaining our kids in The Vanguard future," Herrick said. With an apron on, Herrick rushed to the kitchen to finish popping the popcorn.
"It's a day for the kids," said Pellegrino. "If we make money on it, it's a plus."
Four bands were scheduled to play, and the rest of the time was karaoke, open mic and a DJ. Hill, Drake and Daloia, "The Fathers of The Vanguard," planned to make an appearance, too. Several of The Vanguard's members were there to support their peers and the band, directed by Ed Meier, that they love so much.
Pellegrino said he hopes the event will become an annual one. It will give students a chance to showcase their talents to the community, which they have little opportunity of doing otherwise. It may also help The Vanguard, which placed fifth in the 2012 state championships, to continue marching, making music and amazing audiences with its choreography, costumes and tunes.
"It is my world," Katie Deloia said. "When I started, I wanted to quit. I was thinking, 'I can't march and play at the same time.' I stuck it out, and I did it. It's such a family. It's so much fun." Deloia plans on coming back after she graduates to help work with future band members.