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Marching Vikes shine in Roanoke, continue busy September slate

Image by: Phil Smith. Senior trombonist Matt Pharoah performs during the Roanoke Fall Festival Parade.

By Phil Smith Pounding the pavement, despite searing late summer temperatures can sap the energy from anyone — but try doing it while maintaining your alignment with someone on either side of you and while also toting a heavy musical instrument. The Huntington North High School marching band doesn’t let hot parades and marching band competitions, or recruitment woes brought on by a world-wide pandemic slow it down. Fresh off the Roanoke Fall Festival parade on Saturday, Sept. 10, Band Director Michael Petek, took a few minutes to spell out the busy organization’s hectic September before having to round his musicians up for the next event of the day, the 45th Annual On the Banks of the Wabash marching band invitational, hosted by Bluffton High School. “The kids are doing wonderfully,” Petek said. “Our numbers are up from what I call the Covid dip, probably not as large as what we would have been, had Covid not happened.” For the marching Vikings, who keep audiences entertained during football and basketball games throughout the school year, to use sports vernacular and say Petek’s squad is in a rebuilding year would be a dramatic understatement. “Roughly half of our members are first-year marching band members, which is unheard of,” Petek said. “I think the kids and families are just excited to be doing things again. Our kids are really energized.” The Bluffton event, the band’s second of the day on Sept. 10, was a worthwhile endeavor, as Petek pointed out last week. “We were third place overall, scoring first in Music Effect and Visual Performance, and tieing for first in General Effect,” the director continued. Also on the band’s agenda were performances at Huntington North High School’s Homecoming Parade and football half-time show, both held Sept. 16 and competition in the DeKalb High School’ Marching Band Invitational Sept. 17. For the community, Petek said the band will take to the school’s new stadium field Sept. 30 while the football team is on the road at Leo Jr.-Sr. High School. “It’s going to be a free community night at the stadium on Sept. 30,” Petek continued. “It’s free for anyone in the community to come see what the band’s doing this year. Last year, we were restricted to friends and family only, but we would love to get the community out to really showcase what we do.” Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7 p.m. Concessions will also be available and a raffle is planned. “Any proceeds raised that evening will go directly to the Huntington North Marching Band & Color Guard,” said Petek. The performance is expected to last a half hour. “We really want to use this as a way to showcase the marching band and thank the community for their support,” said Petek.