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Threadbare in dress, purse, band marches casually

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October 20, 2011 06:45 PM EST | AP

NORTH BEND, Ore. — The North Bend High School marching band has gone casual, but it's more a financial statement than a fashion one.

The band's old uniforms were tatty, and there weren't enough of them to go around anyway. Nor was there money for new ones, at least not this season.

Hence the band's 2011 look: T-shirts, knit caps and jeans.

"For 12 years, nothing has been replaced," band Director Amber Mareski shouted over the noise of a Friday night home football game. "Every item is more than a decade old."

Most of the band's yearly budget is spent on travel, buying music and the occasional bill for repairing instruments – some are approaching 30 years old.

With the band growing to 60 members, Mareski ditched the old uniforms for this season in hopes of raising $35,000 by next year for new ones. Most of that will come from grants, she said, but some will come from band fundraisers such as raffles and $5 buttons with photos of the North Bend players.

The old uniforms are remembered for ripped seams, stains, and plumes that would get loose during the marches, spinning in the wind or falling in front of the musicians' faces.

The band members miss them nevertheless.

"They kind of looked dingy," senior band member Quinlyn Deming said. "But it was better than not having them. At least we had uniforms."

Junior Josh Dediego said uniforms make marching bands look professional, and, "We will be taken less seriously at competitions."