49 High School bands march into Gulfport for competition

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Dozens of high school bands were feeling the beat in Gulfport on Saturday. The Harrison Central High School Band was not only hosting but also competing in the Gulf Coast Open.

49 high school bands from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida showed off their skills in the indoor drum line, flag and riffle competition.

Harrison Central High school hosts the annual event and officials say over the years, the competition has gained prestige.

Del Trotter is the Harrison Central Band Director.

"It's one of the biggest shows of its kind in the Southeast. We've been hosting it, like I said, for 28 years," Trotter said. "Harrison Central has become synonymous with indoor activities like this, so we have a very great following with all these groups. And they seem to come back every year."

The Gulf Coast open is a major fundraiser for the Harrison Central band. Officials say most teams start practicing for this event months ahead of time.

One of the other 49 bands in Saturday's competition was the Petal High Band, who have a great big thank you for South Mississippi.

Mississippi's only band to march in the presidential inaugural parade says it's touched by the encouragement it received from all over its home state.

Band Director Mike Garnand said he and the band members were overwhelmed by all the emotional and financial support.

He said for the high school students, taking part in such a historic event was an experience of a lifetime.

"We got to witness all those people that you saw on tv standing there at the president's inauguration," said Garnand. "We got to drive right through that as they drove us into the parade formation, and just to be able to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and playing before the president and the vice president was just a really unique experience for us."

The Petal Band had to raise $70,000 to make the trip to Washington, D.C. and did so in just one month.