LIVINGSTON -- Livingston High School's "Royal Brigade Band" is heading to the UIL Area Marching Band competition in Galena Park Saturday, Oct. 24. This is the second level of competition, resulting from the band earning three first division ratings during the 2015-2016 Region UIL Marching Band competition held at Port Neches Groves last Saturday.
The theme of the Royal Brigade show is "Dreams of Persia" and has proven to be mesmerizing during the halftime productions. "Dreams of Persia" allows the audience to take a trip to the Far East.
First, there is a visit to the mysterious "Bazaar." Then, a ride is taken on the "Flying Carpets," and a transition is made to finish with a performance by the mystic "Snake Charmer."
The show includes a number of props, costumes and activity. It is a unique story that was never before seen by the home crowd. The show includes 16 backdrops that create the City of Agrabah, flying carpets, snake charming flags and gypsy themed color guard uniforms. The Royal Brigade Band creates a fantasy world for the audience to be immersed both culturally and musically.
Royal Brigade Band Director Al Torres said, "This first division award belongs more than just to the band. It belongs to our school and more importantly, our community. It takes a village to be successful and with the help of our little village, along with the hard work and dedication of our band members, we were able to attain our goal."
Torres and the band staff strive to be outstanding role models and encourage the students in the program to be the best each year. The banner backdrops used in "Dreams of Persia" line the field, while other LHS student organizations assist with holding up the props, run with the magic carpets and the load and unload band equipment.
"We have a first division band, but more importantly, we are part of a first division community," Torres said. "We have many unsung heroes that helped the band that truly need to be recognized and applauded for their efforts and contribution to our show. The JROTC, Cheerleaders, and Student Council Members all contributed to our show and without them, none of this would be possible."
The start is not like a race. Swimmers lined up and slowly walked across the rubber matting that starts their individual time, as they finish at the other end after the bike ride and run, they also cross that mat for a final accounting.
ONALASKA – A triathlon is not a traditional race. While there is a starting line and a finish line, each person wears a leg bracelet and their individual time starts and ends when they cross the line to start and complete the event. The test is not to see who wins; the test is to finish in a better time than the previous event in which you competed.
Sunday's third Onalaska half triathlon began with cool, for September, temperatures and ended with high eighties on a typical summer afternoon. Medals and awards are presented on an almost individual basis.
Each person participates in an age group and so there are many "winners." With over 100 of the 135 who started out in the swim event finishing, there did not seem to be any losers.
While Snapp was not the fastest swimmer (Amosky was), he led the bike ride by only a minute or so. However, he did set a torrid pace in the run and took overall top honors in the event.
Amosky, the fastest swimmer, took fifth in the bike ride and fourth in the run, dropping him to third.
HOT DAYS, COOL WATER— With the thermometer topping 100 degrees in recent days, many are taking the opportunity to cool off at the Livingston Municipal Pool located in Matthews Street Park. The pool is open from 1-5 daily except Saturdays when it is open from 1-6 p.m. (Albert Trevino Photo)
SPECIAL VISIT -- Old Timer Raccoon and Ranger Daisy (left) were at Livingston Municipal Library to tell a story of her visit to the White House for President Abraham Lincoln's birthday party. In addition to story time, the children in attendance received their own "portrait" pennies of Lincoln and shared hugs with Old Timer Raccoon.
UNUSUAL CATCH — A South American pacu, a cousin of the piranha, was caught Sunday in Lake Livingston. (CONTRIBUTED photo)
LAKE LIVINGSTON -- On Sunday, Jennifer Crumpton hooked a fish that she will remember for a while. As her boyfriend, Troy Huggins, says, "it's not often you catch a piranha."
As it turns out, it was similar to a piranha, but not quite. The fish is called a "pacu" and according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries, it is a far too common report they receive.
Pacus and piranha have basically the same shape and coloring, which often leads to pacus being confused for piranha. If you run into one, hope that it is a pacu.
Pacus are considered herbivores, relying mostly on aquatic vegetation as well as fruit and seeds that fall into the water. They occasionally feast on snails or other insects, but vegetative matter is their preferred food source.
"Because it is a relative of a piranha, they are legal for people to keep in aquaria and they look like piranhas," Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries District Supervisor Mark Webb said. "It is a big problem — not just with this species, but with others — when they outgrow aquaria or if someone can't keep them anymore, they will release these into public waters.
That's how we get them. To say that the pacu is common may be a little bit of an overstatement, but we get several reports each year from this area."
Crumpton caught the 3.75-pound fish and Huggins was there to help pull it in. The Dolen (between Romayor and Rayburn) residents were fishing in the Brushy Creek area of Lake Livingston around 5 p.m.
"We tried to keep it alive, but it died on the way home. That was the first time we caught something like that in Lake Livingston," Huggins said laughing. "I have it in my freezer. We kept it and we may get it mounted, I don't know." While piranhas tend to gather in groups, pacus aren't big on being social. They can become increasing independent and territorial as they grow.
The easiest way to tell a pacu from a piranha is size. A pacu can top 30 inches long, usually sticking to about 28 inches, and can weigh up to 50 pounds. Piranhas are much smaller, usually less than 17 inches long and topping out at about 7.5 pounds. If you decide to swim in tropical rivers, giant piranha-looking fish aren't as much of danger, as they are likely pacus.
"She caught it and she had a brand new fishing pole," Huggins said. "The drag wasn't set, it took off running and she could not reel it. I grabbed the line and started pulling it into the boat. It had been stealing our bait and was bending the poles. We kept losing it and I'm thinking there are more out there, because we were hanging them and losing them. This one had a bite taken out of it, so I think there were others going after the bait and one bit the other."
When looking at an adolescent pacu and an adult piranha — which can be about the same size and shape — an easy way to tell them apart is to examine the teeth. Piranha teeth are small, triangular and razor-sharp. They're strong enough to bite through fishhooks.
Pacu teeth are short and blunt, resembling human teeth. These are designed to crush seeds and nuts, and are not powerful enough to inflict damage if they bite an animal. The difference is they aren't trying to feed on the animal like a piranha could. They are likely to bite only if provoked.
"Typically, pacu are not very cold tolerant, so they very seldom survive the winter," Webb said. "I do not have any record of a reproducing population. This and other species burrow into banks and cause a lot of erosion, so they can become a problem. Potentially, it could harm indigenous species in Lake Livingston, especially when we have mild weather. The more that get released, the more likely you are to have reproduction. Case in point would be tilapia and red catfish further south from Lake Livingston, near Houston."
While the U.S. government allows import of fish such as pacus and piranhas, many states outlaw importing or owning such fish. Pacus are considered invasive in many states, needing so much food to sustain their size that they squeeze out indigenous species.
"It is a big problem when people dump these freshwater tropicals from their aquarium as they outgrow them," Webb said. "You do not want these things to get established. It is against the law to dump them into the lake. If you have issues, take them back to the aquarium store, Petco or wherever to re-home the animals. The fine is $500 per occurrence."