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Ah, the thorny issue of “My kid’s high school band is better than yours.” A Merced reader named Matt responds to my recent post congratulating El Diamante and Clovis West high schools for fine marching band seasons:

I enjoyed your article, especially since my son is now a member of the Bulldog Marching Band.  However, with a little more homework you would have found that the best marching band in Northern California is in Merced. The Golden Valley Cardinal Regime went undefeated in parade competition for 6+ years. That is quite an undefeated winning streak. This year, with close to 200 members and a new director, their sweepstakes streak was broken in their first event in Antioch. However, they bounced back to start a new streak by winning sweepstakes at Cupertino and Santa Cruz. In addition, they’ve recently been in the Rose Parade (2009) and this Sunday will march in the Hollywood Christmas parade.

Sometimes I wish the whole marching band competition thing wasn’t so complicated. It’s not like a high-school football playoff schedule where there’s one eventual champion.

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Hail to the marching bands, with shout-outs to El Diamante and Clovis West

Once a band person, always a band person. (I refuse to bow to convention and label those of us who appreciate marching bands “geeks.”) At least once a year, I try to catch a marching band competition in the Fresno area — preferably the Western Band Association finals, which gives me a chance to see some of the finest marching bands in the state.

So it was great fun for me yesterday to attend the WBA competition at Central High School’s Koligian Stadium. (Because of rain, the schedule had to be revamped.) The bands I watched were very strong, with many moments of visual and musical beauty. Ayala High School of Chino Hills and James Logan High School of Union City duked it out to a first-place tie in the AAAAA (largest) division — a tie that was later broken in favor of Ayala per the rule book by considering high scores in specific judging categories. Both bands were amazing.

But the heartiest local congratulations go to El Diamante High School Marching Miners of Visalia, which placed first in the AAAA division, beating out a whopping 17 other bands from around the state. What’s more, El Diamante’s score of 90.95 meant it placed third overall among all the bands in the competition, including the bigger-division bands, just behind Ayala and Logan. El Diamante won top scores in its division in General Effect, Visual Effect and Music.

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