Cape High forced to cancel band competition
Cape Coral High School was forced to cancel the annual Southwest Florida Pride of Champions marching band competition because it did not receive the same amount of registrants from previous years.
Cape Coral High has hosted the competition for more than 29 years. In the past it had as many as 15 or more marching bands from the five counties making up Southwest Florida.
While recent participation decreased to approximately eight bands, this year’s total was the worst in three decades. The competition, scheduled for Oct. 17, has been canceled because only two bands signed up to participate, said Cape High band director Abby Briggs.
“We had two schools that had sent in registration forms and one school sent a maybe,” she said.
The event had to be canceled because three registered schools are not enough to cover the costs of the competition. Participation in the event has been declining over the last few years because of economic reasons.
“As the economy has gotten worse, so has the number of the bands that attended,” Briggs said.
Some of the bands who participated were from the Miami-Dade area. She said the price of travel costs may have been too high for the bands. As a result, many of the schools may compete closer to home.
Even though the competition is canceled, Cape Coral High School’s marching band plans to compete at other local events including the Palmetto Ridge Invitational in Collier County on Oct. 24 and Mariner High’s Preview of Champions on Nov. 14.
The competitions are all part of the Florida Marching Band Coalition.
According to the coalition’s contest rules, any of the participating bands — in one of five classes depending on the number of wind musicians — are eligible to compete at the state level in St. Petersburg if they score well at the regional event.
According to Cathy Kersten, tournament coordinator for the state finals, statewide participation in the competitions has not been altered drastically by the economy, but factors vary depending on each school, such as how far they want to travel, what dates are working for them and their school’s football schedule.
“It all depends on the schools that usually attend a contest,” she said. “It does fluctuate year to year and contest to contest.”
Kersten added that other schools throughout the state have canceled their competitions.
The Cape Coral High School marching band is still collecting donations through the band’s booster club. According to Briggs, a vast majority of its funding comes from donations and booster club activities.
“People don’t realize how expensive it is. We pay $3,000 for dry cleaning costs for our marching uniforms,” she said. “I have a wonderful group of parents who are very supportive of the program.”