9 Bands to Compete for Freedom Bowl

Nine high school marching bands and their flag teams will perform Monday in preparation for a performance at the Freedom Bowl on Tuesday. The bands come from Oklahoma, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona, Wyoming and California.

Organizers say the bands average about 300 performers each, and will perform complex routines involving music and dance. The winning band will play before the Freedom Bowl begins, though all the bands will play together for 12 minutes at half time.

The competition will be held at Handel Stadium at Western High School in Anaheim, and will begin at 5 p.m. The bands and drill units will compete for about five hours.

Harvey Berish, who is organizing the event, said the bands were picked after they submitted videotapes of their performances. The bands have become very creative over the years, he said. "Marching bands don't dance to Souza," he said. "They really do show business."

The band from Utica High School in Michigan will perform selections from "Phantom of the Opera" while wearing masks, and some of its musicians will play electric guitars.

Berish said he would like to expand the number of high school bands that will perform in the future at the Freedom Bowl. "This is a building thing," he said. "I'm willing to bet that within a year, there will be Eastern bands."

The bands will perform routines on the field, and also parade. The judges will rate musical performance and showmanship.

Berish, who has played in marching bands and directed them, said band fans are often more excited about the half-time show than the game. "I couldn't care less who's in the football game."

USC and Fresno State will play in the Freedom Bowl.

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