The Wylie Pure Gold Marching Band has seen phenomenal success over the years, yet the program just keeps getting bigger and better.
The band has grown to 215 students; the Band Boosters have expanded into a registered 501c3 nonprofit, and the month of October promises to be a very busy and, hopefully, successful month for the Pure Gold.
“It’s the biggest band we’ve ever had,” said Jeff Branch, president of the Wylie Band Boosters. “It’s really an exciting time.”
State Marching Season
The Pure Gold Band has earned a Division 1 (top honors) in UIL Regional Marching Contest for an amazing 29 years in a row. The band also has had great success at the Area Marching Competition during the last decade, qualifying for state each of its last four opportunities.
But conquering state has proven difficult. Each of those years, the band did not make the finals.
Bands can only advance to area every other year, and this year the Pure Gold gets its chance. They hope to return to state and take that next step.
“We’d like to get in that 10-to-first spot,” said Mike Lunney, director of bands. “That’s a big goal this year – to climb up that ladder.”
That means a more challenging show. This year’s performance is called “The Story of our Home,” and the music reflects the challenges and tragedies of life and the hope and redemption that follows.
“It’s a deep show,” Lunney said. “On the contest years, we have to be more artistic. The music is more difficult, and the drill is more difficult.”
Having such a large band can be a challenge. This year, the band was forced to move to the visitor’s side bleachers during home football games to keep from taking up so much room in the home stands.
But Lunney is proud of Wylie students’ participation in band.
“We are blessed in that regard,” he said. “One out of every five high school kids is in the band.”
October is a busy month for the band program.
On Oct. 17, the Band Boosters will host the 23rd annual Big Country Marching Festival.
The festival is a way to raise money for the band program, but it also helps bands in the area practice for UIL competition.
“It provides a lot of the local bands a place to march,” Lunney said. “A lot of local bands really love it.”
Thirty bands are expected to participate in that competition, bringing with them parents and other supporters.
Then on Oct. 24, Wylie will host the UIL Regional Marching Competition, something the district has done since Bulldog Stadium was improved and became one of the premier 4A stadiums in the state.
Lunney said hosting the competition is great for Wylie and also helps attract bands to the Marching Festival the week before.
“Our hope is once we build the Fine Arts Center (which should be completed next year) we can host concert and sight-reading contests,” he said. “It will be the premier facility.”
The Wylie Band Boosters have long played an important role in the band program.
Lunney said the boosters raise much-needed funds and also offer support and do all the little “grunt” jobs that need to be done behind the scenes to make a half-time show run smoothly.
“They pay for our banquet,” he said. “They pay for equipment. They pay for a lot of stuff. They do so many things for the band program that make the kids feel special. We try to spoil the students a little. The boosters do a great job of that.”
Branch said the boosters decided to register as a 501c3 this year because the program was expanding so much.
“Because of our size, it gives more accountability,” he said. “That’s been a big undertaking for us.”
The boosters raise money primarily by operating the concession stands at all home football games, but also by hosting the Big Country Marching Festival in October. Dozens of parents are needed to help with both of these efforts. In addition, parents serve as chaperones for road games, help with uniforms, carry equipment and much more.
Branch said the band parents are great about helping out.
“We don’t really hurt for support,” he said. “It’s really a group effort.”
Ric Cevallos has been one of those parents for years. He did everything a parent could possibly do to support the band during the years his children were in band, and now that they have all graduated, he continues to run the concession stands.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “I love the kids. I love the band. I will continue to support it.”
Branch said the Band Boosters have lots more ideas for ways to help the band in the future.
“We are dreaming,” he said. “Anything we can do to support the program, the kids and the directors.”