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Local bands hit high notes at 2019 Pigskin Jubilee

The Tom Landry Stadium was packed with fans cheering on their schools Saturday. However, this was not the scene of a football game that typically happens here. Instead, fans were in attendance of high school marching bands competing in the 2019 Pigskin Jubilee, the annual marching band competition.

The 77th annual 2019 Pigskin Jubilee was split between schools from the west and east ends of the Valley. Hidalgo, PSJA Memorial, PSJA Southwest, Valley View, Economedes, PSJA High, Edinburg High, Edinburg North, Robert Vela, PSJA North, McAllen Rowe, McAllen High and McAllen Memorial competed at the east end Pigskin contest in Edinburg.

20191019 PigskinThe schools competing from the west end at Tom Landry Stadium were Grulla High School, Rio Grande City, Sharyland Pioneer High School, Roma High School, Sharyland High School, Mission Veterans High School, Palmview High School, La Joya High School, Juarez-Lincoln High School and Mission High School.

“Pigskin is a UIL regional competition, a festival of marching bands performing their show and judges rate them,” Guillermo De La Cruz III. head band director at Mission Veterans High School said. “For all 5A bands competing, they get the chance to advance to the area round next week and the top four or five bands participate in the state competition.”

The bands, each get 10 minutes to perform their show and then exit the field. With that amount of time, the bands pair their music with dynamic visuals to make an impression.

Sharyland High School, for example, performed their show “On Pins and Needles,” a jazz themed show where a soloist plays the role of a voodoo master, controlling her voodoo dolls who are performed by members of the band and color guard. The voodoo master “controlled” the performers from a throne in the middle of the field while singing songs such as “I put a spell on you.”

“It’s the most dynamic show we’ve ever done,” Sharyland Drum Major Jose Osvaldo Guerra said. “We’ve never done anything like this before and we always want to challenge ourselves and get a huge reaction from the crowd every time we perform.”

For many band directors, like La Joya High School’s Nicole Garcia, Pigskin is the culmination of months of hard work from the students who have been practicing their show since July, spending several hours on the field to learn their movements and indoors to memorize their music.

“These students put in countless hours, get cuts and bruises from their hard work and have gone above and beyond and met every single expectation I’ve put in front of them,” Garcia said. “I’m very blessed to be a part of their lives and their band director.”

For many performers and their directors, the most important aspect of performing was seeing support from the crowd cheering them on.

“The kids turn it on when they hear that feedback they don’t usually get during a football game,” Sharyland Pioneer Band Director Arnold Salinas said. “It was really special to have our community shouting from the bleachers with banners and posters. The kids all notice that and love it. It was a special performance for us due to what the crowd did for us.”

With the exception of Grulla and Roma, all competing schools scored a Division 1 ranking, meaning that the 5A schools of Rio Grande City, Pioneer, Sharyland, Mission Veterans and Palmview will compete at the area competition Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco. 28 schools from across the Valley will compete and the top five schools will compete at the state competition next month.

“The marching band season may be over for us, but we’ll still have that same mentality of performing our best at every football game this season,” Grulla High School Drum Major Kristian Coran said.

This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 25, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.

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