‘Progression’ wins Air Band, but priceless laughs take show

“Selections Inspired by the Works of David Hasselhoff” was not a lecture in Week Five’s theme, “Art & Politics,” but it did help draw several hundred people into the Amphitheater on Thursday.

The 32nd annual Air Band competition, hosted by Boys’ and Girls’ Club, gave clubbers the chance to show their creative talents in front of family and friends while raising nearly $3,000 for the Chautauqua Fund.

Performers, who were competitors by the same token, filled the left and right benches of the Amp, while family and friends filled the floor section. Though the rush to get routines perfected occurs up until the last minute, the afternoon’s entertainers were able to put on a successful 16-part performance, led by masters of ceremonies Kirstie Hanson and Vince Muffitt.

“The kids always rise to the occasion,” said Jennifer Flanagan, program director for Club. “When we see them at auditions sometimes days before, some of the groups look a little ragged, but they always seem to pull it together, and we have a great Air Band.”

SAC Girls won the best overall award at Air Band for their “Power of Progression” performance that touched on America’s path from days of slavery to the constitutionality of gay marriage.

“This one in particular was pretty powerful,” Flanagan said. “They wanted to make it not controversial — and that’s why they had their claim that it wasn’t a political statement — but they wanted to denote history through the ages.”

Chuck Bauer, waterfront director at Club; David Beeson, sailing coordinator at the John R. Turney Sailing Center; Elissa Davis, the assistant director for Youth Activities Center; Rich “Padre” Flanagan, basketball coordinator at Club; and Ashley Rohm, music counselor, were judges for the competition.

Group 8 Boys took home the most original award with “Downloading Nature,” a series of skits and music that sought to show a boy exploring the world outside the comforts of technology. “3G Wishes on a Star,” Group 3 Girls’ performance, was awarded best costume for their fairy tale-like exploration of Chautauqua.

Best props went to Group 3 Boys for “Feelings in a Relationship,” which had audiences erupting in laughter after they portrayed a boy staring at a life-sized framed photo of his ex-girlfriend while pretending to eat a tub of ice cream that was half his size.

“Game Shows,” Group 8 Girls’ program, won best lip sync — a necessary component to all groups’ presentations — and the best choreography award was bestowed to Group 2 Boys and Girls, which performed their own rendition of the summer love musical “Grease.”

Selected performances from the Air Band competition will perform at Old First Night at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Amp. After performers and audience members filtered out of the Amp, Flanagan said one family asked her the specific date for next year’s event so they could plan their travels to Chautauqua in accordance with Air Band.

“Out of all the other things going on at Chautauqua, they plan their vacation around Air Band,” Flanagan said. “It’s a big deal for a lot of families.”