CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Every year the small, quaint town of Cedar Falls, Iowa, holds the Sturgis Falls Celebration to celebrate music with the sounds of more than 20 bands playing a variety of musical styles, including jazz, country, rock and roll, and the blues.
It all begins with a 1 and 1/2 mile parade showcasing various bands and entertainers, including the Albany Marine Band from Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Ga.
The band arrived Friday at the Cedar Falls airport where they were greeted with smiles and cookies. Every year the Marines are given hundreds of homemade cookies upon their arrival. This year members of the Satori Hospital Auxilary made the cookies.
"We can't go anywhere and get the response from a community like we do in Iowa," said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Hufford, Albany Marine Band drum major. "The people in Cedar Falls go out of their way to take care of the Marines and make them feel welcome."
The band then went to the University of Northern Iowa's dormitories where they stayed for the length of their trip. The rest of the night was spent preparing for the next day's parade and concert and enjoying some of the sights in the local area.
For their fourth consecutive year of performing there, the Marine Band awed the crowds of people who lined the streets Cedar Falls for Saturday's parade.
"It's an honor to have the band perform for us every year," said Jay Stoddard, director of the Sturgis Falls Celebration. "When the band performs the crowd is astounded."
As the band made its way through the streets, people stood and cheered. Spectators demonstrated their admiration with cheers of delight and remarks about the band's talent and appearance throughout the parade.
As the Marines passed the reviewing area, many officials, including Maj. Bryan F. Lucas, former Headquarters Battalion commander, and his wife Minnie were on hand to watch the band perform.
After the parade the Marines began preparing for a concert set to begin at 7 p.m. at Overman Park. The park was packed with fans who came to see the band perform.
"This is the highlight of the festival," Stoddard said. "These people come out just to see the Marine Band perform."
The audience responded to almost every Marine band selection with a standing ovation during the concert.
The highlight of the concert was the performances by the party band and Cpl. Tyrone Hamlette when he played buckets like drums.
The band took the opportunity to meet and talk with their fans after all of the encores had been played.
Cedar Falls citizens praised band members for serving their country and for entertaining in their small town another year.
The next morning the band departed for Albany, knowing that they had pleased more than 10,000 people, young and old alike.
"We always have fun when we come to Iowa," Hufford said. "We can?t wait to perform here again next year."