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March 18, 2013

Farewell Band of Liberty

Homecoming seeks new fireworks night band

NEWBURYPORT — Wanted: A rousing replacement to put the opening pop in the annual Yankee Homecoming fireworks display.

After a decade or more of hosting the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty on the Newburyport waterfront, the Homecoming committee now finds itself in need of a new musical act.

The popular military ensemble, which in recent years has become the traditional lead-in to the annual fireworks show on the final night of Homecoming, has announced it is disbanding in the face of budget cuts. The musicians with the Band of Liberty, who have been stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base, are being reassigned to other bands around the country.

Jason Lacroix, president of the Yankee Homecoming board of directors, said organizers learned the fate of the Band of Liberty immediately following last summer’s concert when it went to book the group to return for this year’s festivities — something his board typically did to ensure the annual date would be kept. The news was bittersweet, he said.

“There’s something about watching a military band, I don’t know what it is, call it American pride or whatever you want,” he said. “There was a huge sense of tradition with them — a military concert, fireworks and a parade the next day. What better way to wrap up a tradition like Homecoming. It was a storybook ending in our mind.”

But Lacroix said the board soon saw the loss as an opportunity and began working on bringing in someone new even before last year’s Yankee Homecoming celebration was over.

Lacroix said there has been no shortage of interest among performers seeking to take the outdoor stage at Market Landing Park for the evening show the first Saturday of August. In fact, his committee has been flooded with inquiries.

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