A notable tradition

Carl Robinette

Fri October 25, 2013 12:29pm

Eastlake will offer a big salute to veterans with marching bands, classic cars and other fanfare at the fourth annual Parade Band Review and Festival Saturday, Nov. 9.
The event will welcome more than 30 marching bands from all over Southern California to compete and perform alongside veterans, dancers, South Bay Cruisers car club and other community organizations at Otay Ranch Town Center.
“The best part is just stepping back the day of and watching it all unfold,” said Charles Wolf, event director. “Watching all the community come out and the little kids waving American flags, the veterans, some of whom are over 90 years old, the high school bands. It’s just a really cool thing to see.”
As community parades similar to this one are disappearing around the United States, the Parade Band Foundation, the Chula Vista non-profit that produces the event, is setting the standard for keeping community parades alive, Wolf said. Wolf is s also a co-founder of the foundation and a music instructor at Eastlake High School.
“I think the communities have been done a disservice by taking what’s left of their discretionary funds and taking it away from community parades,” Wolf said.
But in many cases organizers of community parades have dug their own graves, Wolf admits. Often they lose sight of the changes that their communities go through and kept trying to produce parades the same old way year after year. The foundation’s goal is to help communities save and resurrect parades with out-of-the-box thinking and new ways of finding funding.
The majority of the funding comes from donations, grants and the San Diego County Community Enhancement Fund, which is a program dedicated to promoting events that bring cultural and economic value to communities in the county.
Most important to keeping events like this alive are its partnerships with local businesses and organizations like the South Bay YMCA, Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, Otay Ranch Town Center and Macy’s.
“Each year the challenge is to re-sell the idea,” Wolf said. “Making it obvious to the community leaders and business leaders how good it is for business and everybody in the community. The reputation of what we’re doing and how we do it is getting a lot of recognition.”
Since its inception just a few years ago the Eastlake festival has become one of the premier events of its kind in Southern California for marching bands to showcase their talents. And it has risen to become one of South Bay’s top Veteran’s Day celebrations.
Every participating marching band will receive an audio clinic as part of the event to help hone their performances. The bands that come out on top in the competition will receive private clinics from top professionals. Winning bands will also receive $1,750 in grant money.
Last year the foundation was able to dispense $4,000 to schools for travel assistance, and they will likely top that number in 2013.
“Our goal is to grow as much as we can without spending too much money on marketing so we can give more money to the bands,” said Jason Paguio.