South Florida marching bands step out for MLK show
Five South Florida high school bands showed their stuff Saturday -- and honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
BY KARINA CHAVARRIA
Dressed in maroon, gold and white track suits, Hallandale High School's marching band shuffled onto the football field at Tropical Park in South Miami-Dade.
With their backs to the crowd, the band's drum line began to tap out a beat, which triggered a ripple effect of stomping feet throughout the group.
In minutes, the Hallandale Chargers turned around and screamed out a chant that made the audience of about 300 go wild.
``Let's get this party started!''
The band was the opening performance at the ninth annual Martin Luther King Institute's Battle of the Bands, sponsored by the Miami-Dade Children's Trust and coordinated by the West Perrine Community Development Corp.
The event, which featured five high school bands from Miami-Dade and Broward counties as well as Bethune-Cookman University of Daytona Beach, took place in conjunction with the Perrine Martin Luther King Jr. holiday parade.
``The bands marched in the parade this morning and came on over here to participate in the show,'' said Ed Hanna, president of the corporation. ``Martin Luther King Jr. was about bringing people together and looking at character instead of color. The parade and the battle of the bands are ways for people of any background to enjoy the day in a positive atmosphere.''
Also rushing the field in glittering red, white and blue were the American Senior High School Patriots, belting out their interpretation of chart-topping tunes by R&B singers Usher and Ne-Yo.
``I'm so proud to be a patriot today,'' said Jasmine Williams, 17, a junior at American. ``It's great to see our school participate in an event that symbolizes a person who changed so much.''
With performances by the Miami Northwestern Bulls and Miami Carol City Fighting Chiefs, the event's largest band was from Miramar High, which their announcer described as a marching musical explosion.
``Gatherings like this really show you how great music programs can be for the community,'' said Jorge Martinez, a southwest Miami resident who was riding his bike around Tropical Park and decided to buy a ticket to the event once he heard the music. ``I'm always willing to support anything that helps kids participate in something productive.''
Persephone Gary, a public policy and outreach coordinator for the Children's Trust, agrees with Martinez, saying her organization's main purpose at the event was to engage the public on the benefits of creating neighborhood programs for children.
``We ultimately want people to be aware that there are places for kids to go that can help them in the future,'' she said.
Closing the day's festivities were the Bethune-Cookman University wildcats, who have participated in the annual event off and on for the last seven years.
``We always have a great experience when we play here in Miami,'' said Donovan V. Wells, the band's director.
The 319-member Marching Wildcats were featured in the 2002 film, Drumline, and have been highlighted in the ESPNU reality series, The Battle. Yet, Wells said one of the most important things he wanted Saturday's audience to know is the significance of Martin Luther King Jr.
``Celebrating the legacy of this very important American means a great deal to us,'' he said.
``A lot of the privileges we have now are possible because of the sacrifices he was willing to make. It's imperative that we keep his encouraging message of togetherness alive.''http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/15/2018446/music-marching-meaning.html