CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Since 1985, the small town of Cedar Falls, Iowa, has brought in thousands of spectators to the Sturgis Falls Celebration. It celebrates music with a parade, children’s activities and live-band performances.
These events, along with the 2nd Marine Division Band, that traveled from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are what Jay Stoddard, the president of the event’s board of directors, believes to be the major attractions.
“The Cedar Valley is the only area in the Midwest to garner a Marine band for several years in a row,” said Stoddard. “I take great pride in this.”
According to the Cedar Falls Community Main Street website, the Cedar Falls community annually recognizes its history, honoring William Sturgis, who founded what is now called Cedar Falls. Sturgis and his family settled in the area in 1845 and named it Sturgis Falls, until it was renamed three years later.
The band spent the entire day either performing or preparing. Their performances included the Dixieland Band, the Jazz Ensemble and a full concert.
“We performed throughout the day and seeing the town cheer for us and kids looking up to us is an awesome feeling,” said Cpl. Jacob Post, a trombone instrumentalist. “It’s amazing to see the impact we have on the communities that we go to.”
According to the Sturgis Falls Celebration webpage, the event was a success and brought in more than 20,000 spectators.
“We’re usually the only Marines that this city will ever see,” said Gunnery Sgt. Santwan Odom, the assistant drum major for the band. “It spreads comradery, love for the Marine Corps and love for our country.”
Odom says that the presence of the band helps the recruiting efforts in the Midwest, including the Musician Enlistment Option Program.
According to the Marines recruiting website, the audition process is highly selective, ensuring the musicians continue to successfully demonstrate to the world what it means to be a Marine. Instrumentalists are chosen on the basis of their performance during their audition. The audition coordinator guides applicants through the progress.
If selected, applicants have the opportunity to serve with one of the 10 renowned Marine Corps bands throughout the world, or “The Commandant’s Own” Marine Drum and Bugle Corps in Washington, D.C.
“The Marine Corps is a great opportunity for musicians who want to travel the world playing an instrument that they love,” said Cpl. Danielle Nickolopoulos, a clarinet instrumentalist.
Marines with the 2nd Marine Division Band said they enjoyed their time in Iowa and look forward to returning next year.
To find our more information about the Musician Enlisted Option Program, contact your local recruiter or visit the website, https://www.marines.com/becoming-a-marine/enlisted/musician-enlistment-option-program.html .