The Lakeshore Marching Band Association is stuck in formation, having canceled its usual season of events due to safety concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a message published Tuesday on its website, the group's executive board announced that it would not hold its usual competitions this year.
"After waiting several months to allow for the situation in Pennsylvania to improve, we have determined that at this time schools cannot safely host any of our regularly scheduled events this season," the email reads.
Kathy Thumpston, LMBA president, said the association held three general membership meetings over the past six weeks to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Pennsylvania. At the last meeting, it was determined a decision had to be made in order to allow band directors, students, staff and parents to plan for the fall.
While LMBA's usual events, including the championships, are canceled, Thumpston said the organization is looking into "potential alternative performance opportunities," possible consisting of having bands make performance videos. However, whether such an activity will take place is unknown.
"We are in the very early stages of researching that possibility and do not yet know if it will be a viable option," Thumpston said in an email.
The news was "extremely" disappointing for Carl Miller, band director for Cochranton Junior-Senior High School. Cochranton has been a dominant force in the LMBA championships, winning 30 titles in the 35 years of the association's existence.
"It was probably the most somber meeting in my 31 years (with the band)," Miller said Wednesday.
Miller, while not on the LMBA's executive board, was involved in a committee that decided the status of the 2020 season. He said recent tighter restrictions from the state government on gathering sizes dashed the committee's hopes of holding association competitions.
"We were still a little optimistic, a little hopeful, and that really was the final nail in the coffin," he said.
Although the LMBA competition may be canceled, Miller said his band likely still will perform during football season in the fall if it takes place. Beyond that, he is looking into possibly doing some non-competition shows, though that remains up in the air.
This isn't the first time the pandemic has disrupted the Cochranton band's season. The student musicians are in band camp this week, though it's taking place at the school. Usually the band travels to Edinboro University for band camp, but Miller said the campus was closed.
Sean P. Ray can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.