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451st U.S. Army Band Visits Here Friday for Music in the Park

July 1, 2015

Antigo Daily Journal

Antigo Daily Journal

Friday’s Music in the Park concert has all the ingredients for exceptional summertime fun: Patriotic music, bratwurst on the grill, pies and custard and camaraderie.

The annual fund-raising fete will take place at City Park, featuring the music of the acclaimed 451st U.S. Army Band from Fort Snelling, Minn.

“We anticipate that we could be serving over 1,000 people this year, which would be a record,” organizer Nick Salm said. “Hopefully we will have great weather, but if not, we have the multipurpose building at the fairgrounds reserved.”

Activities will kick off at 5 p.m. with the annual fund-raising picnic, once again featuring Salm sausages with buns, Steakhouse potato salad, potato chips, pickle spears, sauerkraut, catsup and mustard. Freewill donations will be accepted.

The Antigo Visual Artists group will be serving pies and ice cream and Antigo Optimist Club will be selling its famous deep fried cheese curds.

Jack Eaton, a national officer, in the 40 et 8 will be passing out small American flags and will also be collecting money for Langlade County Voiture 1204 nurse’s training scholarship. Voiture 1204 has three scholarships which are assisting three nursing students at this time.

Often referred to as “one of the best in the Army Reserve", the 451st Army Band is unique among Army bands. The organization began in 1948 as the 330th Army Band, primarily composed of bandsmen from the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas. In the summer of 1949 during their annual training at Camp McCoy. General Hanford MacNider of the 103rd Infantry Division was so impressed with their musicianship that he made them his own band. It remained the 103rd Infantry Division Band until 1961, when it was decommissioned and became the current 451st Army Band.

In the early days, the unit played concert tours in cities and towns all across the Midwest. In 1982, the 451st became the very first reserve band to replace the band at West Point Academy in New York. Since then, the band has seen a considerable amount of travel to play missions in Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska, Chicago, Las Vegas, Heidelberg, Germany, Rome, Italy in 2004 for the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of Italy, and the 100th anniversary of the Army Reserve in Washington, D.C., among many others.

Perhaps its most prestigious mission to date was when it was called upon to represent the 90th Infantry Division at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France in 1994. The 451st was one of thirty-four U.S. Army Bands asked to participate, but they were the only reserve unit present for the ceremonies.

Throughout its 60 year history, the 451st Army Band has also hosted various small ensembles, allowing them to reach more communities with their musical mission. Ensembles over the years have included a chorus, a barbershop quartet, a polka band, a jazz band, a marching band, a ceremonial brass and percussion group, a stage band, brass and woodwind ensembles, and a rock band.

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