Creativity counts when marching bands take the field

Marching bands from South Mississippi emerged from under the Friday-night lights and into the stadium spotlight Saturday for the 48th annual Gulf Coast Marching Band Festival at Milner Stadium.

“We will have 31 high school bands that will be performing for their state evaluation ratings,” said Zachary Harris, director of bands for the Gulfport School District. “This is part of the Mississippi High School Activities Association. It’s kind of like the band’s state test scores, so this will go in the record books — whatever rating they will get today.”

Judges graded the schools on their overall routine, creativity, marching and sound balance. They also evaluated the drum major, percussion and color guard.

Gulfport High School’s marching band has been preparing for the evaluation since April with the selection of student leaders. GHS marching band director Wes Morehead took the summer to design the show for the 196 band members, the largest in the school’s history.

Morehead says weekly practices and football game halftime shows have prepared the band for this year’s festival.

“We’re always very excited about it,” he said. “The kids work really hard and we are very proud of their efforts year in and year out.”