by Jonathan Weaver
The Kittanning Firemen’s Band won another award last month for its trophy case.
During the September 21-24 State Firemen’s Convention, the band won ‘Best Appearing Musical Group’ for the 28th time in its 62-year history.
The competition, which this year was held at Lake Harmony in the Pocono Mountains, involved a 1.8-mile parade route. There were 40 musicians and nine colorguard with the Kittanning Firemen’s Band that marched the route. The band also joined with the Sharon Hill Fire Company – which is a suburb of Philadelphia – for the competition.
Along the parade route, the band played various marches before performing ‘Armed Forces Salute’ before the judges.
Drum Major Bob Schall found the parade route challenging.
“That was the roughest parade route that I have ever marched on,” Schall said. “We got caught playing on a hill, but we just had to keep going. And we made it. It’s a tough bunch of guys.”
The group performed against several Drum and Bugle Corps, high school bands and pipe bands. Trumpet player Mike Totos and Director Jason Krecota said regardless of the competition, the band always tries their best.
“No matter who are competition, we always try our best, and put our best foot forward for the state competition,” the musicians said. “If we didn’t have any competition, we’d be the same way – you’d still see the same band on the street.”
Krecota, who is also the General Music teacher at Lenape Elementary, has been with the group for 21 seasons and remembered how he got involved with the band.
“Ever since I’ve been a kid just seeing the firemen’s band, I’ve been very impressed with their presence on the street and the musicianship of the organization. I was brought in by Kevin Gibbons, the former director, who would bring me to practices and go home that night. I just loved played with the band – any opportunity I had to play in an organization, I took it,” Krecota said. “When they needed a director, I had just gotten out of college and it worked out of my schedule that I could take it, and I’ve had it for the last seven years now.”
Krecota attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. He said he is honored to be a part of a majority of the band’s state championships.
“I’ve been a part of the majority of them, which is nice that I’ve been around helping in any way that I can,” Krecota said.
Percussionist Tyler Woodside explained the band’s success.
“The key to our success is our tradition and what we stand for: the military and our firemen in Kittanning,” Woodside said. “We try to uphold the excellence and keep it going.”
Rick Frailey, who played percussion with Elderton High School and who used to play sparingly at Kittanning Free Methodist Church, joined in April after an invitation from Woodside and said he enjoyed his first season, more so than as a student.
“Its more fun,” Frailey said. “It’s fun to play with the group of musicians they have – they’re very talented – and it’s a pleasure.”
Frailey plans to return next season.
The win wraps up a 14-appearance season for the band, including competing in the Western PA Firemen’s Competition August 6 in New Kensington and the state competition last month. The group won both competitions.
To find out more information about the band or to inquire about joining, visit www.kfband.com