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Sanborn Fire Company Band still going strong after 86 years

SANBORN – The Sanborn Fire Company Band wants to drum up some support.

First, it’s holding a Chiavetta’s chicken barbecue and basket raffle beginning at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at the fire hall, 5811 Buffalo St.

Meal tickets are $10 and eat-in and take-out are available, with the raffle drawing at 1:30 p.m..

The band also is planning its annual recruiting night for new members from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Monday at the fire hall.

Resplendent in their bright red uniforms, this staple of parades, concerts and field days for 86 years is always looking for new members.

The rehearsal is open to all musicians age 14 and up and is not limited to Sanborn residents.

It also draws some who haven’t picked up an instrument in years, but are willing to give it a try.

“We’ll take people from anywhere and you can join anytime, even if you can’t make it to the recruiting night Monday,” said Randy Haseley, the band’s assistant manager. “We have some who come out for it who haven’t played in years, but they come back because this is a fun group.”

Haseley said the band currently includes about 60 to 65 members, starting at age 14 and including members in their 70s, with a median age of about 45. Parades usually draw about 35 to 40 band members, while concerts average around 50, Haseley said.

“You have to have young and older members,” he said. “You’ve got to have that mix.”

He said the band also is a mixture of seasoned musicians, those who haven’t played in years and younger, newer performers.

“Everyone mixes in wonderfully,” he said.

The band practices from 7:30 to 9 p.m. every Monday at the fire hall, except the last Monday of each month, taking a break from mid-December to March 1.

The band makes about 25 appearances a year and is slated to play Memorial Day in Lewiston; the summer concert series in Lewiston and Wilson; the July 4 festivities on Grand Island; Canalfest in Tonawanda; Labor Day at Clarence Center; the Peach Festival parade in Lewiston; and a Christmas concert early in December.

The band’s conductors are Wallace Goodman and Keith Schessl and the manager is Mark Banks.

The fire company allows the band to practice in its hall and operate its bingo nights four times a year and share in the profit.

The band also is supported by the Town of Lewiston and its appearance fees and performance prizes.

The band was formed in 1930 as the Sanborn Fire Company Boy Scout Drum Corps. It had its first rehearsal as a Brass Band in 1934, with its first public appearance in 1935.

The band has won numerous local, state, national and even international awards in its colorful 86-year history.

Haseley recalled that, back in the day, “every volunteer fire company had a band or drum corps and they’d play at the field days. So, every week, you’d be going to a different field day with your band.

“But, especially in the past 15 to 20 years, the field days have died out, due to a number of reasons, like (cost of) insurance,” he added.

“We’re one of the last fire company bands left here,” he said.

He mentioned the American Legion Post 264 Band of Tonawanda and Bergholz German Brass Band as being two other local marching bands still in operation.

Haseley said he joined the band 47 years ago as a 13-year-old trumpet player. His late father was in the band, and his brothers are still in the band, as are his sons.

The band has seen many generations gather to create the Sousa marches for parades, as well as patriotic songs for concerts, which also include Broadway show tunes and current hits, like “Star Wars” selections.

“We’re proud to be able to keep this going for so long,” Haseley said. “It’s still fun.”

For more information, visit: or contact Haseley at 731-7077.