In 1958, several directors, administrators and parents recognized high school marching bands in the area needed a competitive atmosphere. Primarily to present and showcase their growing band programs. From these meetings, the Cavalcade of Bands was born. Their main goal was to promote various programs of musical organizations and to help develop new cultural activities in and for the music community. One year later, on Tuesday, October 27th, 1959, the Boyertown Area High School held the very first Cavalcade of Bands contest with seven local high school participating. Through a primitive judging system, a first and second place winner was selected.
Because there were no similar competitions, a judging model based on one used for drum and bugle corps competitions of the day was adopted. However, very quickly the Mid Atlantic Judges Association where hired to judge Cavalcade contests. At the time, they were very active in developing professional judging techniques related specifically to high schools programs.
A negative tick system, common for the day, was used up until 1969. From this point through 2002, continual sheet changes, enhancements and revisions were incorporated to keep current with the ever growing trends of our activity. This system was again revised for the 2011 marching band season with totally new sheets, caption criteria and other judging tools needed to succeed in the current marching activity.
From 1959 through 1969, there was one marching championship division (Yankee) each year. In 1970 this expanded to a second division (American) and in 1974 this expanded yet again to three divisions (Independence). From 1978 through 1996 four divisions were now present at championships with the fourth (Liberty) added in 1978. Starting in 2004, division were expanded again to include both an A and Open class format at championships, for each division, thus providing even more opportunity for groups to succeed. While our championships have been held at many venues, our primary home is Hershey Park Stadium in Hershey, PA, on the second weekend in November each year.
In 1971, the Cavalcade Indoor division was formed. Seeing the need to continue year round marching instruction, training and program growth, indoor color guard, twirler and drill team competitions were held throughout the winter months. As the indoor percussion trend grew, this was added to the CI structure several years later. This continues today with both marching and concert percussion ensembles. Today, our indoor division follows the guidelines of Winter Guard International (WGI). This premiere national organization helps us keep our structure, systems and judging approach current which has helped us continue to grow our local indoor base. We conclude each year with a championship contest in early April.
A non-competitive jazz band division was established in 1988. Instead of competitive scores, the goal of this arena is to promote great jazz performances and to allow constant musical growth throughout the winter. At each show, three professional jazz musicians/teachers critique each band with constructive information. They also select best soloist awards. This division of Cavalcade has grown to be one of the strongest and most well respected jazz associations in our region and on the East Coast. We conclude each year with four championship performances in mid-April.
Throughout the 80’s, the Cavalcade Hall of Fame was created recognizing many talented and dedicated individuals for their dedication to our association. In 1995, the Director of the Year was created, giving all directors the opportunity to recognize their peers. In 2000, an annual scholarship was established for students planning on continuing in music education at West Chester University.
In 2008 we implemented digital recorder technology to be one of the first marching band associations in our region to do so. Since then, we continue to use this for both our jazz and indoor division as well. In 2012, we implemented a new tabulation and digital file program called Competition Suite™, allow directors, staff and judges to access judge’s commentary electronically.
Membership in the Cavalcade of Bands continues to attract schools from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia. With currently well over a hundred actively participating schools and over eighty contests or performing opportunities a year, we are poised for continual membership growth, as we always strive to service our school scholastic core customers.