For many Oak Harbor area residents, the holiday season isn’t official until Navy Band Northwest has performed its annual concert.
The band performed before a packed house Saturday evening at Oak Harbor High School’s Student Union building.
“We always know we’re going to have a great turnout whenever we come to Oak Harbor,” said band director Lt. Robert Coats. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to interact with the community.”
There were people of all ages in the audience Saturday evening and the program was a mix of holiday favorites like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” along with an instrumental “Festive Sounds of Hannukkah” and the light-hearted “A Spike Jones Christmas Medley,” featuring the vocal stylings of Musician 1st Class David Baine and Musician 2nd Class Stephanie Brainard.
“We pride ourselves on putting together a show that has something for everyone,” said band director Lt. Robert Coats. “We include instrumentals, vocals and traditional holiday favorites.”
The holiday concert is also one of the few times each year all 35 members of Navy Band Northwest gets to perform together. The group is typically broken up into smaller ensembles throughout the year, such as the ceremonial band, the parade band, the showband “Puget Sound Machine,” the popular music group “Passage” and the “Five Star Brass” quintet.
“We don’t often get a chance to play together, so it makes it more special,” said Coats.
From the jazzy “(Everybody’s Waitin’ for) The Man with the Bag” to Chuck Berry’s raucous “Run Rudolph Run,” the concert included plenty of upbeat, toe-tapping fun. A saxophone “war” on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” earned plenty of applause and a thoughtful rendition of “The Call” paid tribute to all the military men and women who won’t be home for the holidays this year.
“It’s good entertainment,” said audience member Tom Luehr. “And it’s the Navy.”
“We come every year,” said Mary Frances and Phil Wendling.
There was also a very special guest near the end of the concert: Santa Claus worked his way through the crowd shaking hands and passing out candy canes, much to the delight of the children.
Sgt. Craig Burdis of the U.S. Marine Corps and the commandant of the Maj. Megan McClung Marine Corps League, Mike McClung, were on hand before the concert as well to collect donations for Toys for Tots.
“We’re down about 40 percent in donations overall,” said McClung, who organizes the annual toy drive. “We really need things for both older and younger children and we have taken in nothing for outdoor sports.”
McClung said donations will be accepted through Dec. 21. Call 360-320-3013 for information.
In the end, the band’s performance earned not one, but two standing ovations. The first kept the band on stage for a flawless performance of “Sleigh Ride,” which earned the group its second ovation.
“This was really extra special,” said a woman as she swept out of the auditorium.