ROYERSFORD - A dozen years after their current uniforms were purchased, the Spring-Ford Marching Band is looking to buy new ones that will tweak the look of the current uniforms slightly.
'They were purchased in 2001, which makes them 12 years old,' said Seth Jones, the marching band's director, at Tuesday's school board work session. 'So it is time for us to look into a new one.'
The uniforms the marching band wears currently, which they used in 26 separate performances in 2012, were inspired by Civil War-era West Point uniforms.
The new uniform design is similar but contains its own look.
'One of our big criterion was how to maintain the tradition of Spring-Ford in the uniform we wanted to pick and how to connect it to the old,' said Dan Rowe, the president of the Spring-Ford Music Association booster.
The process to create a new uniform began at the end of last school year.
'We contacted three different companies and had conversations with them about our ideas were, what we were looking for what we thought the design should be or could be,' Rowe said. '(We) narrowed it down to one company.
When Jones was hired last summer, he became a part of the process participating in design meetings that went through 'hundreds' of different looks.
Jones said the guiding principle and trend in marching band uniforms as of late is not necessarily how a uniform looks up close, but from further away.
'There's a lot more attention to what the uniform will look like from the perspective of the person sitting in the audience,' Jones said.
Although the new uniform design bears many similar characteristics to the one used in this past marching band season, there are some changes.
'We have maintained the cadet style but incorporated some new designs into the jacket,' Jones said.
The jacket was previously 'Oxford blue' with several embroidered horizontal 'Vegas gold' stripes with buttons. The new design will also be Oxford blue with two fabric stripes coming down from the right shoulder to the jacket's center where it is cut at an angle at the bottom. The fabric stripes will be white and Vegas gold.
There will also be four curved stripes starting, in blue, over the angled fabric stripes on the right, then changing to white as they go over the Oxford blue jacket's left side. Golden buttons are at both ends of the curved stripes.
If the jacket is looked at in certain angles, Jones said, there is an 'S' and an 'F' in the design.
A Spring-Ford logo was not included in the jacket or the plumed helmet, called a 'shako.' This was done just incase the district decides to make any kind of logo change during the life of the uniform.
However, the gauntlets for the uniform, which are more easy and cheap to replace than the jacket, contain the small interlocking 'SF' logo the band has used.
Embroidered on the sleeve, however, in Vegas gold, regular printing will be 'Spring-Ford' in a semi-circle.
'Four years from now, what if the district decides to unify under a different logo?' Jones said. 'That's why you'll see on the left sleeve (that) it's written out, 'Spring-Ford,' which I think actually looks classier.'
On top of that, Jones said a logo would just end up looking like a 'circle' to a judge in the judge's box and would really only be visible up close.
The jacket will be made from Dac Wool, a material that 'will work in various weather conditions (wet or dry),' according to a handout from Jones. It will also be unisex.
In the current uniform, gray pants were worn for football games and white pants were worn for parades. For the new uniform, Oxford blue pants would take the place of the gray. White would remain in the parade configuration.
'One of the things we had to take into consideration with the new uniform was the growth of the program,' Jones said.
For 2012, the band had 128 members, but he wants to order 154 uniforms, which will include four for drum majors. By ordering that amount, the program will be given room to grow and a variety of sizes will be available in case they have a larger number of students that need a certain fit.
Jones said extra uniforms could be ordered in the future if there is a need, but its better to order them in larger numbers to offset costs.
In total, he projected the new uniforms to cost $81,600.
However, if the uniforms last 12 years again, like the current uniforms, the cost per student would come out to $53.13 per year.
'I have to say, the parents of this district have done a phenomenal job of maintaining the uniforms we have now. It is really incredible,' Jones said. 'In fact, the companies that we met with were very impressed with the state of our uniforms.'
As such, it stands to reason the new uniforms will again last another dozen years.
It was still being worked out how the uniforms will exactly be paid for, Jones said.
What to do with the old uniforms is a question that Jones will work on, per the school board's direction. Ideas mentioned for them was donating them to a marching band program in need or turning the jackets into decorative pillows that could be given out as gifts to band supporters or sold.
In the meantime, Jones will work with the district's business office on making an a request for proposal to begin the process of ordering the uniforms.
The Golden Ram Marching Band has a history of success and won their third straight Atlantic Coast Championship in the fall. Work has already begun on the band's shows for the next season in the late summer and fall.