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Battle by the Riverside welcomes all to Band World

LAPLACE — Antonio Gardner is not shy about sharing where he thinks his life would have taken him had he not gotten involved in school band programs.

“I believe I would have endured a different lifestyle if I had never joined the band, due to my troublesome youth,” he said. “I was given a different and brighter opportunity that most of my peers did not receive and I want to give our future the same opportunity that I was blessed with — the gift of music.”

The second year director of bands at East St. John High School has a plan to make that happen, and Saturday’s Battle by the Riverside Band Showcase is a big part.

The event takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday in Joe Keller Stadium in LaPlace, and Gardner hopes the showcase inspires and exposes young people to the band world.

The event will consist of music performed by some of the best marching bands in the southern region and include, according to Gardner, a “Jigga/Bounce” Dance Contest, special guest artists, food and fun for people of all ages.

The East St. John band is in need of band and music equipment, additional marching band instruments, concert band and jazz band instruments and help with competition fees, transportation and instrument repairs.

“All money raised will benefit the needs of our students,” Gardner said. “Replacement of instruments costs up to $60,000. Replacement of uniforms is approximately $70,000. We are also in search of corporate sponsorship to donate money to the band program. This a great way for local businesses to become involved in shaping our students, providing them with much needed funds to keep the program alive.”

Tickets for this weekend’s event are $5 in presale from any ESJ band students, $8 at the door and $5 at the door for St. John the Baptist Parish elementary and middle school students with their school ID and for children 5 and under.

The East St. John High School Band of Gold is growing, Gardner said, adding 75 students are participating.

“Every week, we have new students joining the band, and soon we will not have enough instruments to accommodate all participating students,” he said.

“I believe our superintendent and School Board members made a wonderful decision of reestablishing the music programs in our elementary and middle schools. As we progress, I guarantee, you will see something bigger and better coming from the East St. John High School Instrumental Music Program.”