Aug. 5—INDIANAPOLIS — Several Madison County marching bands returned Friday to the annual Band Day competition after sitting out for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anderson High School's Marching Highlanders hope to regain first place, which they won the last time they competed in 2019. They were the third band to perform Friday morning.
"They had a great run this morning," said Band Director Richard Geisler. "It was our best run of the season despite most of the kids getting only three to four hours of sleep with our early draw."
Also participating at Band Day this year are Alexandria-Monroe Jr.-Sr. High School's Marching Tigers, Frankton and Lapel high schools' combined band and the Marching Panthers from Elwood Jr.-Sr. High School.
Geisler said his 69 band members are excited for a return to the track at the Indiana State Fair.
"Sixty to 70% of our band has never performed at State Fair due to the pandemic," he said.
One first-timer is AHS junior Delaynie Stanley, 16. She is the field commander, flute soloist and member of the color guard.
"It's honestly really exciting. To experience this is super cool," she said.
Stanley said she believes the band, which has won more Band Day titles than any other in the state, could add to its record with this year's theme, "Twisted Kilts." It features "Alice's Theme," "This is Halloween," "oogie Boogie's Theme," "Ice Dance," "Tales from the Crypt" and "Beetlejuice."
"I honestly love it. It's so different from what we've done in the past," she said. "I really enjoyed 'Ice Dance' since I have the duet."
The early performance, Stanley said, was competitive.
"As a whole group we did really well. I am super proud of everybody."
AHS previously placed third in Drums at Winchester July 30, the Anderson Tartan Tournament of Bands, which it hosted at Highland Middle School July 29, and the Jay County Lion's Club Band Contest July 22.
The Marching Highlanders placed first at the Centerville Archway Classic July 16.
Band Director Eric Bailey said the Frankton and Lapel marching bands combined last year and now compete together. He co-directs the 61-member band with Toni Bays.
"We rehearse at Frankton due to the access to facilities and proximity of our rehearsal spaces," he said.
Their theme this year is "Long is the Way," a series of pieces based on the "Inferno," "Purgatory" and "Paradise" of poet Dante Alighieri's medieval masterpiece, "The Divine Comedy."
Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.