The La Grande High School Marching Band will step on to the football field this fall with newfound swagger as the group will be donning a fresh look in the form of new uniforms.
The new design features the school’s colors of blue and white with an extra dash of flare that the current uniforms are missing, according to Chris Leavitt, LHS and La Grande Middle School director of bands.
Leavitt said the last time the school purchased marching band uniforms was in 1998. He calls this style “the ’90s uniform,’” which he actually wore as a student when he was in the LHS Marching Band.
The ’90s uniforms, as plain as they are, were a direct response to the traditional style of uniforms that came before them — “the ’70s uniforms” — which featured lace, several buttons and a cape. Leavitt said these extra garnishes made uniform repairs difficult, leading to the minimalist style of the ’90s uniforms.
Now, though, the band has found a style that’s between the two extremes.
“We wanted to find a middle ground (style of uniform) that we’d be proud of but was easy to maintain,” Leavitt said, adding while marching band uniforms usually have a lifespan of about 10 years, LHS has taken such excellent care of theirs that they were able to double that lifespan.
The band has been raising funds for 125 sets of this 10-piece uniform since January 2018 and finally reached its $75,000 goal in the fall of that year, according to band moms Tressa Seydel and Heather Null, who were co-chairs of this fundraising project as a branch of the Tiger Boosters.
“We received tremendous support from the school district, especially (Superintendent) George Mendoza,” Null said.
Seydel chimed in, giving a shout out to the other major supporters of the fundraising efforts.
“The school district, La Grande High School, Tiger Boosters, the Union County Commissioners and the La Grande Soroptimists really stepped up and gave us legs on this thing,” she said, adding that nearly a third of the total money raised was by “small efforts” of band members knocking on doors, businesses holding special deals and individual community members sponsoring either a full or half a uniform.
Seydel said some older community members even sent in check donations with whatever they could afford to give, along with notes describing their experience in the band 40 or 50 years ago.
“It was cool to see everyone get behind that (fundraising effort),” said Leavitt. “There’s tremendous support in the community for music, and that’s a unique thing to our valley. You can’t find that everywhere.”
Community members can see the official unveiling of the band’s new uniforms at the La Grande Soroptimist Pancake Feed June 2 in Riverside Park, where the band will play two selections from their upcoming 2019-2020 halftime show, the Avengers theme song and a few other standards.