The Arcadia Festival of Bands — which has grown into being among the most popular marching band reviews in Southern California and is the longest-running event of its kind in the state — is scheduled for Saturday, city officials said.
The all-day event consists of the Band Review that begins at 9 a.m. on Duarte Road, east of Holly Avenue, preceded by the Dignitary Parade that leads off the day at 8:40 a.m.
The Percussion Festival starts at 11:40 a.m. at Arcadia High School’s Salter Stadium followed by the Band Review Awards Ceremony at 2 p.m.
In the evening, attention turns to the field tournament, which is the 6A Division Field Show Championship for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association. The field tournament is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at Citrus College in Glendora, followed by an awards ceremony at 8:30 p.m.
“For 70 years the Arcadia community has been coming together to help us all celebrate this program of musical excellence. Each year we build upon the past to strengthen our future,” Kevin Sherrill, band and percussion director at Arcadia High School, said in a statement. “The Festival of Bands is a way of giving back to the community that means so much to us.”
The festival’s continued success is due to the steady support provided by the city of Arcadia, its fire and police departments, the Arcadia Unified School District and local businesses, according to a city statement that added, “the parade simply would not happen without their cooperation.”
The parade’s grand marshal this year is retired Arcadia Fire Department Capt. Neil Conrad, who served the department for 30 years.
“Neil and his wife graduated from Arcadia High School as did their two children, Jeremy in 1999 and Marissa in 2001,” according to the city statement. “His kids were both percussionists and he was involved in loading equipment and being a ‘Pit Dad.'”
Following the graduations of his children — both of whom went on to service-oriented careers, Marissa in nursing and Jeremy to the Arcadia Fire Department — Conrad continued his community service by doing the festival’s bus parking. He also planned and designed the traffic flow and layouts for staging bands at the Arcadia festival as well as other music events, officials said.
Beyond the Arcadia Music Club, Conrad was also involved with Foothill Middle School’s band program, Indian Guides and AYSO soccer, according to the city statement. He has also served as a church youth group advisor and “plays a major volunteer role with Fiesta Floats, supervising the decoration for one or more Rose Parade floats.
City officials added that “involvement can be fun too, as former teachers remember with fondness when Neil drove the Highland Oaks staff to school on Arcadia’s antique fire truck for Halloween. The teachers were dressed as Dalmatians and the principal as Cruella de Vil.”
On important lessons learned from volunteering, Conrad observed, “I’ve noticed most people have a desire to be helpful and like to belong to something positive. People will continue to volunteer, if they feel appreciated and acknowledged. Good positive people like to be around other good positive people.”
More information about the festival is available online: sites.google.com/arcadiamusic.org/afob.