EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- More than just spelling letters on a field, the drums, the horns, the colors and some intangible buzz pack stands for the start of a season.
"It's finally getting to the point where we get to compete. We've been rehearsing a long time, since early in July and now we get to see the fruits of our labor," said East Syracuse-Minoa Band Director Gibs Flock.
For the marching bands at the 37th Spartan Spectacular at East Syracuse-Minoa, there's an excited nervousness: Will the hard work pay off?
Vestal woodwinds section leader Brianna Cordei said, "Even after three years, I do get nervous when we step onto the field."
That's the mood for most bands, but for Cordei, there's more to it this year.
"Our show hits really close to home. It's 'Vestal Rebuilt' and it's about the story of when Vestal got flooded a few years ago," she said.
Drum Major Gaby Baxter remembers the band fighting through friends and family losing their homes in 2011.
"I couldn't get into my house for three or four days. I had to stay with my sister. My family, we all stayed with her. But it's definitely, it was shocking," said Baxter.
But they were able to beat the flood waters.
"After the flood, we didn't go to our first, we had to go to our second. It was Corning East. And the announcer goes, 'From the flooded Susquehanna Valley, the Vestal Marching Band!' And everyone started cheering because we still made it out. We still had a season, even after all the devastation of the flood," Baxter recalled.
They're trying to channel that sorrow and the ultimate triumph over it.
"Then the rebuilding. Parts of Vestal are still being rebuilt. So this show, it really expresses that," said Cordei.
And in the end they band together and march on, showing just how much more marching can mean.
The New York State Field Band competition season runs until October, when bands from around the state compete for the championship.