It was a crisp 40 degrees outside on Saturday morning, and all along Century Boulevard, parents, sisters, brothers and friends huddled in scarves, galoshes and coats as they leaned out into the street to see the mass of trumpets, trombones and tubas.
At first, only chattering teeth and muffled voices from mouths covered with scarves could be heard above the distant crash of symbols and the high trilling of flutes.
Then, a shout from the cold, and the roll of snare drums echoed down the street as marching bands from all across Northern California began to assemble and move down Century Boulevard towards Mills Avenue.
The annual Grape Bowl Classic had commenced, and despite the chilly weather, a renewed sense of excitement fueled the band members and, more so, their families.
But parents are doing far more this year than supporting their child's marching band.
Parents of students who attend local high schools came together after Tokay High School's band instructor retired to help get the competition organized.
"We are covering two grounds this year, being supportive parents and volunteering to help run (the competition)," said Rudy Carreon, one of the event's organizers and a parent of a marching band student at Tokay High School. "We started organizing this all the way back in May to make sure we had covered our bases. That sounds kind of ridiculous to some, but it takes a lot to put something like this together."
For six months, local parents made phone calls to find sponsors, went shopping on their own dime and gathered competition entries to make Saturday possible.
They prepped food for days leading up to the event, including hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza.
Parents woke up as early as 4 a.m. to get to Tokay High School to set up for the morning festivities, pitching tents in the dark and marking the parade routes for the bands who had entered into the marching section of the competition.
Throughout the day, they lined the streets and sat in stands to cheer on their children and other schools as the bands played various musical selections including Bernard Shaw and famous movie theme songs.
An all-day affair, organizers of the event would probably still be out at midnight, making sure the last remnants of trash would be thrown away, Carreon said.
While the day was meant to focus on the talents of the nearly 40 middle and high schools that came from as far away as San Ramon, it was hard not to notice the hundreds parents and other family members that came to show their support. George Chavez, whose 17-year-old son Michael Chavez played the trumpet for Antioch High School, was on the road at 6 a.m. Saturday to make sure his son was able to get to the Lodi competition on-time.
Camera in hand to capture every moment, Chavez put a finger to his lips and winked when he said he called in sick at his work just so he would be able to come see his son march.
"This is one of his last competitions, and because I work on weekends, I usually miss them," he said. "But this ignites such an adrenaline rush in him, and he is so talented. I couldn't miss this opportunity."
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.