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Hurricane Washes Out Band Fund-Raiser

Band Paying for Event that Never Happened

The Herndon band, The Pride of Herndon, was prepared to show local rivals and out-of-town competitors alike why it was named the 2002 U.S. Scholastic Band Association Virginia State champion when Hurricane Isabel rained on its parade ā€” or, more accurately, its showcase.

Herndon was set to play host to its annual Showcase of Bands Sunday, Sept. 20, when the Fairfax County school system pulled the plug due to the stormy weather that pounded the area just days before. The cancellation killed one of the band's major yearly fund-raisers and ended up costing money instead.

"We did lose money, some will be recouped," said Eric Hirt, president of the Herndon High School Band Parents Association and chairman of the showcase. "Several of the trophies we bought we can be reused. We'll just get different plates engraved. We had already paid the judges' fees and there's even something as trivial as the program. We couldn't wait until the last minute to have that printed. Yes, there were expenses."

Due to logistics and scheduling conflicts, the showcase will not be able to be rescheduled this year.

"WE'RE GOING to think of some way [to recoup the money lost]," said Richard Bergman, director of bands at Herndon.

The showcase, in its eighth year, was expected to bring together 24 bands from Virginia and Maryland. The all-day event features competition at four levels, with the top-three winners of each level receiving trophies. Additional trophies were to be awarded at each level for best drum majors, best drum line and best visual ensemble or color guard. The five judges were coming from Florida, Illinois and Alabama.

"The judges had already been contracted," Bergman said.

The event was anticipated, based on past events, to raise at least $5,000 for the band through gate and concession receipts. The money would have been used to maintain uniforms and instruments.

Hirt said the parent association hires eight to 10 people to work with the band on a year-round basis. The county school system pays for Bergman's salary and a portion of his assistant's. The uniforms, which were purchased three years ago at a cost of $67,000, are bought by the parent organization and donated to the school.

In addition, the band hires someone to choreograph the performances and when possible purchases original music, typically from Robert W. Smith, a composer for Warner Brothers Publications.

"When it's all said and told, there's a lot that goes into the band that the county doesn't pay for," Hirt said.

BESIDES LOSING OUT on supplementing its funds, the band lost the opportunity to take advantage of having trusted adjudicators on hand. Besides judging the performances, the judges provide critiques of the bands. Herndon was set to perform an exhibition in addition to its competition routine, hoping to get feedback from the judges.

"We lost the judges' critique that we value," Hirt said.

However, the band still hopes to get back some of what was lost. Bergman said its "tag day" fund-raiser had tremendous support from the community and there is still a greens sale during the holidays and a citrus sale later in the school year.

In addition, the association is working on a fund-raiser for spring that it hopes will fill the void left behind by the showcase cancellation. Hirt said it is too early to talk about because the details have yet to be worked out.

Even if the replacement fund-riser does not pan out, Hirt said there is a backup plan.

"Those that came before us planned for the future," Hirt said. "In the original years of the showcase, the association took a portion of the profits and invested in CDs [certificates of deposit] knowing something might happen."

For more information about band fund-raisers or future performances and competitions, visit www.herndonband.org.