Van Nuys celebrated 100 years as a community on Saturday at the Van Nuys Civic Center. The "Taste of Van Nuys Centennial Celebration" brought out families from Encino and other parts of the Valley who were excited about the classic car show, square dancing and comfort food that were offered.
The weather was hot and humid. Everything was relatively calm and ordinary until the Patriot Marching Band from Birmingham Charter Community High School blew the crowd away with a sensational concert performance. The 75-member band included trumpet, tuba, trombone, flute, saxophone and drum players. The flag squad danced to the jazzy music and gracefully tossed their flags high in the air, which spun and twirled as they came down and were caught in perfect synchrony.
The audience turned wild when "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker" by Parliament-Funkadelic was played. Cheering fans could not help but move to the groove.
“This is what I wake up to every morning,” said band director Donny Sierer, as he introduced the next segment. “I have the coolest gig ever. I love this band!”
It was the band’s first performance of the school year.
Birmingham Charter has been back in session for three weeks, but the band practiced throughout the summer. Sierer, 52, provides his students with upbeat, popular music to perform.
“There’s no need for a marching band to be a drag,” Sierer said. The band’s past shows included songs by Earth, Wind and Fire and Frank Sinatra. Sierer, a big fan of Michael Jackson, had his students play "Smooth Criminal" at another show.
“As far as music goes, I feel it’s the one art form that really transforms you,” said Sierer, who said he strives to teach his students more than music.
“I do everything I need to do so they could be the best people. I teach them good manners. They need to be responsible. They have to keep their grades up.”
Sierer pushes the band hard: They rehearse every day after school and every Wednesday night.
“It really helps out the band,” he said. “I don’t want people in my band that will bring it down. This has been an amazing year. We’re almost at a point where we’re outgrowing the band room.”
The Patriot Marching Band’s show came to a close Saturday evening as they trotted off in marching fashion. The crowd, however, stood exactly where they were for several minutes until they were sure there was no encore. “That was awesome!” someone screamed from the crowd.
The centennial celebration went on through the night with food, games and booths promoting local businesses.