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City Band is a Two Harbors tradition

School may be out for the year, but music was blasting out of the Two Harbors High School band room Tuesday night.

Thirty musicians, about two-thirds of the Two Harbors City Band, were taking part in one final rehearsal in preparation for the band's upcoming concert series.

Charlie Kamper, 13, was manning the entire percussion section, looking as though he needed a few extra hands to play all of his cues.

Seated directly in front of him was 80-year-old Paul Ingelin, playing the tuba, his instrument of choice for seven decades.

The faces and names change year-by-year, week-by-week even. Several members don't even live in Two Harbors. Some live as far away as Texas. But family connections continue to bring many band members together. For others, it's a sense of family that keeps them coming back.

"We have such diversity, from sophomores in high school to people who are retired," said Jim Glaser, the band's president and a member for more than 40 years.

"Music is a lifetime sport. You can't play basketball when you're 80, but you can play tuba when you're 80."

Ingelin first joined the band in 1943 when he was in junior high. After a hiatus of nearly 40 years, he returned to the band when he retired in 1995. Even at 80, he still can't resist picking up the tuba for another year.

"I should've played the piccolo," he said in comparison to the more cumbersome tuba. "I can still play, but getting around is tougher."

Ingelin's father, Veikko, was a longtime member of the band. Legend has it that he never missed a concert, parade or rehearsal in his 56 years with the band. For his son, the band is an opportunity to continue a 115-year-old Two Harbors tradition in his father's footsteps.

"It just kind of encapsulates small town America," Ingelin said. "It's amazing to see the park filled week after week every summer."

Like the band's oldest member, the youngest members also were introduced to Minnesota's oldest city band through family.

Sue and David Kamper spent 10 years bringing their sons to band practices and concerts before the kids became members themselves.

"They were exposed to it from an early age, so it's no surprise that they ended up in the band," Sue Kamper said.

David, 15, and Charlie became members last year.

"It's actually a lot of fun to play in a band with our parents and it's really convenient," David said. "As long as we live here, we want to keep playing in the band."

His mother quickly responded: "And if you move away, the first thing you'll do is find a local band to play in."

Glaser said an ever-changing membership makes it difficult to predict how many family pairings there will be in the band this season, but of the roughly 50 members, there are sure to be a handful of spouses, siblings, and parents and children taking the stage.

The band's first weekly concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Thomas Owens Park and members are scrambling to prepare.

"We only have two practices before the first concert every year, but I don't think we usually sound like a band that only practiced twice," Glaser said.