PORT CHESTER, N.Y. Thousands of residents flocked to the Port Chester High School athletic fields and fill the stands Tuesday to celebrate at the 68th Annual Band Night.
The spring tradition offers residents an opportunity to hear performances by all four elementary school bands, the Port Chester Middle School band and the "Pride of Port Chester" the Port Chester High School band.
"I love turning around and seeing the entire stadium full of people," school district music director Ken Kraut said. "I'm heartened by how many people stayed through the intermission to watch the high school band. People come away with a good feeling when they come here."
The event is the largest school-sponsored community gathering offered in the village, Kraut said. It is also the band's largest fundraiser: Community volunteers spend the evening selling concessions, grilling up burgers and hot dogs, and tearing 50/50 raffle tickets. Community organizations such as the Port Chester Community Cares Coalition and the Rye YMCA also set up booths to raise community awareness.
Band Night is great for the whole community, said Port Chester High School band treasurer Steve Greto, the father of a senior musician.
"It's a great event, and it's not just a school event. This is a community event," Greto said. "It really needs a lot of people to have a tradition like this. It's an amazing thing."
High school band parent and second Vice President Joseph Vincento, father of Elizabeth Vincento, said the Port Chester community values the bands.
"The band as a whole is near and dear to the whole town's heart," Vincento said. "It just kind of grabs you."
The evening ended with a bang as the crowd was treated to a three-and-a-half minutes of fireworks for the second year in a row.
"We added the fireworks because we wanted to give it a boost," Greto said. "I think it worked."
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