‘Fiesta isn’t Fiesta without music’

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The popular marching band festival and competition held during Fiesta each year has been canceled.

The next time marching band students will be showcased among the Fiesta festivities could be as late as April 2022.

After the Battle of Flowers Association decided Monday to cancel its annual parade, the association announced Tuesday the band festival, which hosts more than 5,000 area high school students in a marching band competition and performance, would also be canceled this year.

“We feel strongly that (the festival) is unlikely to continue at the level in which our participants and spectators expect after the school year has ended in June 2021,” said Battle of Flowers Band Festival Vice President Cameron Armstrong. “We look forward to striking up our bands again in April 2022.”

The city’s annual 10-day Fiesta celebration was postponed from April to June 17 due to the city’s growing coronavirus numbers. But some events, like the Flambeau parade, were outright canceled.

“It comes at a time when our city and the rest of the world are continuing to fight a disease that has the ability to adversely impact the health and well-being of both spectators and participants in both our parade and band festival,” said Battle of Flowers President Anna-Laura Howell Block.

The Battle of Flowers parade draws in massive crowds, sometimes topping more than 550,000 visitors, according to the Battle of Flowers website. High school and college students and representatives make up about 70 percent of the parade’s 12,000 total participants.

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The band festival itself usually has about 20,000 spectators.

For many high school band students, not being able to perform in the festival for the second year in a row is a “huge loss,” according to James Miculka, the director of fine arts for Northside Independent School District.

“For some students, that’s the most electrifying, most exciting event of their high school music experience,” Miculka said. “Fiesta isn’t Fiesta without music.”

The first Battle of Flowers parade took place in April 1891, commemorating the fallen heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. About 46 years later, the first band festival was added to the parade’s programming, according to the association’s website.

This year’s theme for the band festival, and the one planned for 2020, was “Viva las Flores.” Before 2020, the band festival had only been canceled once before in 1942 due to World War II.

But, as the theme suggests, the festival will live on.

“We’re still here,” Armstrong said. “We don’t want this wonderful tradition to go away.”

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