The Astoria High School Marching Band placed first in its division and ninth overall in October at the Puget Sound Festival of Bands, a regional competition held in Everett, Washington.

Astoria took first place awards in percussion, general effect and visuals with their program “No Place …,” described by co-director Joe Scott as a dark twist on “A Wizard of Oz.”

The competition features some of the larger competitive bands from throughout the Pacific Northwest, Scott said. Astoria, with about 30 members, competed against four other regional schools in a division with bands of up to 60 members.

“We were definitely the smallest one, and we always are,” he said.

After placing first in its division, Astoria placed ninth overall in the finals against 14 other schools, some with bands of more than 100 members, Scott said.

“It goes to show the amount of work that is put in by all the students,” he said. “They’re not held back by their size.”

The Astoria Marching Band was started in 2003 by Kathleen and Tom Strecker, who had recently moved to the coast and wanted the opportunity for their children to play in a marching band. It has gone off and on over the years as a class at the high school, but is run as a club with support from the Astoria Band Boosters.

The couple’s son, James Strecker, participated in the band as a high schooler and now serves as a co-director with Scott.

“I think half of it’s probably they wanted me to do it badly,” James Strecker said of why he got involved. “But the experience of being in marching band is enough to keep you around. There’s something strangely magical about it that you can’t quite explain.”

The marching band’s final competition of the year is the Veterans Day Marching Band Competition in Auburn, Washington, on Saturday. The event serves as the state finals of the Washington marching band circuit and includes about 40 bands of all sizes.

Astoria took third in the competition in 2010 and 2011, and first in 2012, James Strecker said. He will record the competition and post it afterward on the band’s YouTube page.

Locals will have a last chance to see “No Place …” during the high school’s winter concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 in the auditorium.

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