McVicar Field rocked out to brass, woodwinds and percussion instruments, never mind the hooting from the crowd, Saturday night as 10 marching bands, took to the field for the 14th Annual Royal Blues Invitational.
The bands assembled for the annual event at Rocky Hill High School early and the rain held off with the weather providing a nice backdrop for each performance. The hometown Royal Blues debuted their innovative performance piece, "The Gangster Chronicles” and joined special guests, Central Connecticut State University's Blue Devil Marching Band, as the Invitational's designated exhibition performers.
Although Rocky Hill’s band took to the field, it was no eligible to compete, per the rules of the USBands — known until this year as the United States Scholastic Band Association—the governing entity of interscholastic band competition. This fact didn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits, though.
Eight schools competed in five different divisions, according to band size and class, determined based on experience. Class A is set aside for inexperienced outfits, while the Open Class is designed for more seasoned bands.
The field contained several highly decorated units. The East Haven High School Yellow Jacket Marching Band, the defending Group II Connecticut and New England champions and four-time national champions, walked away with the Group II Open trophy, while the Rockville High School Marching Ram Band of Vernon, the defending state champs in Group III Open class and the defending New England runner-ups, had similar success in the Group III Open.
Representing the town of Enfield, the Enrico Fermi High School Marching Falcons, four-time state titlists in Group IV Open, walked away with another win in the Group IV Open.
In addition to winning their respective groups, also took home several other awards, "Best Music,” "Best Visual,” and "Best Effects."
Other noteworthy victors included South Hadley (MA) High School's Tiger Pride Marching Band with their avant-garde, circus-themed routine "Put On the Costume" and perennial stalwarts Wethersfield High School with their sophisticated composition, "Brave." Wethersfield received the highest score of any band in attendance, a 76.95 out of 100.
The Rocky Hill High School Band Backers Association, which supports the Royal Blues, also introduced a special, new award, dedicated to the Invitational's best "pit crew", or volunteers that toil in support of their band during the competition. Called the John Bernardi trophy, the award was named for a recently retired Royal Blues pit crewmember who served faithfully for many years.
The Wethersfield High School pit crew were the recipients of the inaugural John Bernardi award.
Here is the complete list of victorious bands in each division:
- Group I A - South Hadley High School Tiger Pride (MA)
- Group II Open - East Haven High School Yellow Jacket Marching Band
- Group III A - Ramapo High School Raider Marching Band (NJ)
- Group III Open - Rockville High School Marching Band
- Group IV Open - Enrico Fermi Marching Falcons
- Group V Open - Wethersfield High School Eagles