CRYSTAL LAKE – Thor Laisy can still hear the regal sounds of the herald trumpets and see the crisp formations of the clap-cad musicians unfold on a football field.
Thirty years later, the memories of the nationally acclaimed Crystal Lake Heraldry Guard remain strong for many associated with the group, which is why Laisy is hoping to reunite the band for one night to celebrate its history and accomplishments.
“I don’t know that you could ever replicate what they did again,” Laisy said of the band’s run from 1978 to 1982 that included finishing as one of the top-10 marching bands in the nation. “It was such a talented group, and it had the full support of the community. It was synergistic.”
Before the band became a national, award-winning group, it started as an idea from Crystal Lake Central High School music director Bill Laskey who wanted to field a competitive marching band. Laskey started a competitive marching band at Central High School in 1974 known as the Marching Tigers that achieved some success.
But when Crystal Lake South High School opened in 1978, Laskey was able to bring together students from both schools and create the Crystal Lake Heraldry Guard, which focused all its efforts on summer competitions.
The group had an ambitious schedule, Laisy said, as it would fit in 15 competitions from June to mid-July, competing in regional and national events in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Florida.
One of its crowning achievements that led in part to its top-10 national ranking came in July 1979 when the Heraldry Guard won the Governor’s Trophy at the Cherry Land Festival in Traverse City, Michigan.
The Heraldry Guard quickly became known for its signature entrance featuring eight herald trumpeters that would form two lines for the rest of the band to walk through while the trumpeters played the famous Olympic Fanfare and Theme.
“It was truly an impressive maneuver,” Laisy said. “I don’t know how anyone could watch it and not get excited.”
The band grew so much in the late ’70s that a secondary group known as the Squires was formed because not everyone could fit on the field for the formations. People in the Squires would be added to the Heraldry Guard as members left.
At one time, Laskey had 22 paid instructors helping to build the show.
Kurt Begalka, administrator for the McHenry County Historical Society, was an alto saxophone player for the Marching Tigers, graduating in 1977 right before the pinnacle years of the group.
Source: Northwest Hearld