High school marching bands from across Southern Arizona are coming to Ironwood Ridge High School this Saturday, Oct. 31, for an invitational band competition.

March The Ridge is a qualifying event ahead of the Arizona state band competition in Phoenix on Nov. 7. It also serves as a fund-raiser for the 83-student Ironwood Ridge band, directed by Mark Hodge, to travel to the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl in San Diego at the end of December.

On Saturday, bands from Ray, Cholla, Vista Grande, Sahuarita, Canyon Del Oro, Sahuaro, Sunnyside, Sabino, Tucson, Nogales, Desert View, Sierra Vista Buena, Mountain View and Catalina Foothills high schools are joining the Nighthawks.

Each band performs, and is judged by representatives of the state's band directors organization. They'll be rated as "superior," "excellent," "good" or "fair." Top-rated bands advance to state competition.

Bands start playing at noon Saturday at the Ironwood Ridge stadium, and continue through 4:30 p.m. Spectators are welcome; admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. There are concessions, and a benefit bake sale.

The Ironwood Ridge band is going to play in festivities surrounding the Dec. 30 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl college football game in San Diego. During the five-day trip, the band is marching in a Holiday Bowl parade, competing for a spot in the pre-game show, and performing with other bands during halftime of the contest.

The trip is priced at $745 per student. Those who would like to make a donation may contact Gloria Singleton at 404-4459.

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