Marching Band

Blue Devil Marching Band Hosting Pancake Breakfast

The Blue Devil band is legendary. (Darin Reed photo)

January 27, 2017

The Blue Devil marching band will host a lavish pancake breakfast at the Halesite Fire Department on Sunday, February 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend at whatever time is convenient.

The delicious menu will include a choice of juices and pancakes along with scrambled eggs, breakfast meats and an assortment of fresh fruit, yogurts and granola.

Admission to the breakfast is $10 at door for adults ($8 if purchased in advance), $5 for children eight years old and under. The annual event attracts dozens of families and alumni each year. Proceeds from the breakfast will be devoted to Blue Devil marching band expenses.

To purchase tickets in advance, visit the Band Parents of Huntington website at https://www.bandparentsofhuntington.net.

Pancake Breakfast on Feb 12
The Blue Devil marching band will hold a pancake breakfast on February 12.

The Huntington Blue Devil marching band is an entrenched institution, with thousands of alumni who have been counted among its ranks over the years.

The band has survived changes in its leadership, the normal evolution of its membership and new philosophies and inspirations as the times have dictated. The original bands consisted of several dozen students, a far cry from today’s more than 100 student strong organization.

The band was organized in 1934 and was open to boys and girls in all four classes, according to the 1936 edition of The Huntingtonian, the high school yearbook. “Although newly organized, this group has worked very hard and with the cooperation of the student body, the band members have received blue and white uniforms,” states the yearbook. “They gave a new feeling of school spirit to all of the occasions at which they appeared this year.”

The 1936 yearbook is the first to picture the marching band dressed in traditional uniforms. The book notes the uniforms were the product of fellow students, most likely referring to a campaign by the General Organization to raise funds for their purchase or an outright grant of monies.

The first director was high school music teacher James C. Doty, who attended Oberlin College in Ohio. \The 1936 drum major was Edwin Riggs. He is the first student any yearbook assigned to that prestigious role. Mr. Riggs, known as Eddie, was a member of the varsity basketball and track teams as a junior and senior, served as the Athletic Council president as a senior, was drama club stage manager for three years a member of the General Organization’s Executive Council and on the staff of the Question Mark, as the student newspaper was then called.

“Under the able direction of Mr. Doty, the musical leader, our band is expected to further the musical of the Huntington High School in the future,” states the 1936 Huntingtonian. It has done just that.

James Cloyd Doty came to Huntington in 1924 and began his supervision of the music department. The 1935 high school yearbook was dedicated to him. The dedication, listed on the yearbook’s second page extolled the teacher and music director: “Who through his devotion to music has helped many students to develop a love and appreciation of one of the fine arts,” states the yearbook. “Who by his sympathetic understanding of young people has both earned and enjoyed the love and respect of all those privileged to have been his pupils.”

That same 1935 yearbook depicts the band sitting on the stage at the old Huntington High School on Main Street (now Town Hall). Members were dressed in formal attire, with boys in jacket and tie. “Great progress was made this year by the band,” reads the caption under the photo on page 44 of The Huntingtonian. “Money was available for new instruments and through careful spending Mr. Doty purchased several which have filled out the band in both appearance and sound. Besides playing at games the band performed at the Huntington Theater, at Woodbury Avenue School, as a concert given for its own benefit at the high school and participated in the Music Festival at Lindenhurst.”

Following its humble origins, in later years the marching band went on to participate in local and national level parades and events, appear on the field at Yankee Stadium and other professional sports stadiums, march in the Rose Bowl parade on television and win the state championship in its division. It has garnered a lengthy list of honors far too numerous to note in a short article.

It’s hard to believe but the same band that means so much today to so many students and community members had its genesis in that old brick building on Main Street that continues to hold memories for local residents. The band, which has evolved into an institution, was crafted by the reserved Mr. Doty, a man long since forgotten in the local schools, but whose work continues to pay dividends decades after his death.

James Cloyd Doty
Blue Devil marching band founder and music teacher James Cloyd Doty .
Marching Band Staff
The Blue Devil band's professional staff. (Darin Reed photo.)
Marching Band circa 1937
The Blue Devil marching band in 1937-38.