Trumbull High band on the march

TRUMBULL — The Trumbull High School Golden Eagle Marching Band has been racking up the miles lately, rolling to the University of Delaware last weekend for the the Bands of America Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.

The Golden Eagles placed fifth place out of the 26 high schools there, with high schools from Ohio, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, North Carolina and Connecticut competing.

This weekend, the Golden Eagles will be in New Britain for the USBand New England States Championships, performing Saturday at 8:45 at Veterans Stadium, 635 South Main St.

Trumbull High will be up against competition from Norwalk and Southington, the two other high schools in Trumbull’s division — Group VI, made up of the largest bands.

The Trumbull Band has 142 members, including 34 in the color guard, 36 in the percussion section, 69 on wind instruments and three drum majors. Their trophy case has hardware from several regional and national championships over the years, and they’ve marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York as well.

Peter Horton, the faculty band director for the last 31 years, said that the band gets some help from the school district, but much of the funds for these extracurricular competitions come from parents and fundraisers. One parent, in fact, donated most the money needed for new uniforms a year ago.

“For the Delaware trip, we went down in four buses plus a trailer for our gear,” Horton said. “It involved two nights in a hotel — along with 15 or 20 chaperones.”

Students say that to do well, the band has to excel in the way they both look and sound.

“the way we appear on the field is very big deal,” said Bella Dragone, a junior and captain of the color guard. “We’re judged on what’s called the ‘general effect.’ ”

A lot of people don’t picture band members as athletic, but they have to be fit. Their season lasts most of the academic year, and in addition to the interminable standing and marching, they have to lug around their heavy instruments.

“Yes, the vibraphone is pretty heavy,” said junior Liam Mottolese. “But the vibraphone is my thing — I’m not much of a piccolo guy.”

After this weekend’s competition, the Golden Eagles’ penultimate competition will be the New England Regional Championships in Danbury on Nov. 3. The trophy season will end on Nov. 10 in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., with the USBands National Championships.