1933 Chicago World’s Fair

After their win in Toronto Arthur looked around for something bigger to challenge his boys. He found it in Chicago at the Chicagoland Band Festival in 1933. They would be playing for the championship of the world and there would be several top U.S. bands performing. Youth bands had long been established in the US and they didn’t take performing in contests lightly. Arthur’s boys would have to be extra good to pull off a win in Chicago but he knew they could do it.

The whole city got behind Arthur and his boys to send them to Chicago in the summer of 1933. The Chicago World’s Fair was on as well! The boys played every where in Vancouver to raise the necessary funds. Finally as the big day of departure arrived, August 10, the boys departed the CPR station on Cordova Street for another great adventure.

Again, Arthur had them playing the whistle-stops: Kamloops, Revelstoke, Banff, Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Winnipeg. There were forty-four in all including Arthur and Lillie. They managed to get the same porter for their hotel on wheels that they had had to Toronto William Crawford who the boys all called Bill.

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ABOVE: The boys playing on the patio at the Banff Springs Hotel

On August 18 they all arrived in Chicago. The hotels in Chicago had booked in several big bands expecting to capitalize on all the people in town for the Fair. Some of Arthur’s boys spent their free time in Chicago visiting the hotels to catch a glimpse of some of the world class talent: Clyde McCoy, Art Kassel and his ‘Kassels-in-the-Air,’ Johnny Hamp, Cab Calloway and Coon- Sanders. Also there were Sally Rand and a young tap dancing father, son act (Sammy Davis Jr. was the son).

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ABOVE: Arriving in Chicago.

During the Fair the boys played at the General Motors building. the Canadian Exhibit at the Court of the Hall of Science and before the Premier of New Zealand.

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ABOVE: In front of the General Motors Building at the Chicago Worlds Fair.

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ABOVE: Playing in front of the Swift Building at the Chicago World’s Fair.

When the big day arrived seven bands attempted to stop Arthur’s boys from winning the prize. When it was all over and the scores were counted, the boys had amassed 225 points out of a possible 240. Their nearest rival, the Chicago Boys Band were 24 points behind. They had won! When news of the victory reached Vancouver the whole town went juvenile band crazy! In fact the whole Dominion was filled with great pleasure and pride.

That evening the boys shared the spotlight at Soldier’s Field with the winners of Class C, the St. Mary’s Training School Band before 100,000 people. They performed several concerts at the Fair before departing Chicago.

The Lexington Hotel where the boys stayed had been owned by Al Capone. There was a shooting range on the top floor where dummy cops popped up. When the boys were in the lobby getting ready to leave one boy said to Mr.D “So what’s next Mr. Delamont?” “Why England of course,” he said without missing a beat.

“The nearest approach to a Sousa Band ever hear.” The boys played a series of one night engagements on their return trip home: Winnipeg at Eaton’s Grill, Moose Jaw in the park, Swift Current,Banff, Revelstoke and Kamloops. In Moose Jaw the boys played in a park on the banks of the Serpentine River. A gentleman only remembered as RDL was in attendance. He had also been in attendance in 1901 in Glasgow to hear the famous Sousa Band play. He was quite excited to hear the boys after all the prestige showered upon them for their win in Chicago. They were now the Junior Band Champions of the world. There would be a large crowd in attendance at the park. It was packed a half hour before the concert was to start. The only seat he could find was a patch of grass on the edge of the ravine where he waited contentedly. The scene reminded him of Glasgow in 1901, the first time he had ever heard the famous Sousa Band. The river Kelvin flowed by the bandstand much the same way as the Serpentine did in Moose Jaw. Kelvin Grove had long been immortalized in Scottish song but the scene in Moose Jaw impressed him just as much as he rose to attention. The boys were playing O Canada and the concert had begun. The opening march was played equally as good as the one Sousa had played. Sousa’s freak antics however had been quite distracting he recalled. He was a good conductor but Arthur Delamont got us much out of his boys as Sousa ever did out of his he felt. He had heard Sousa again twenty years later and the antics had gone. His hair was grey now but he was still a great bandleader. The program he was hearing tonight was equally as varied as the one Sousa played: a few standard pieces, a collection of well loved operatic melodies, some popular airs of the day, a sweet and solemn hymn tune and a great collection of Scottish gems. How well he remembered the crowd around the bandstand: youth and beauty, laughter and lightheartedness. When it was all over he looked around at this crowd. It was much the same but he had changed. A generation had passed and a new one had arisen.

Back in Vancouver a huge crowd turned out at the CPR Station to greet the boys. Several bands were there as well. A professional band made up of members of the Musician’s Union led by Calvin Winters, the South Vancouver Juvenile Band led by Joseph Olson, the daily Province Carriers Band, the South Burnaby and West Vancouver Juvenile Bands led by W. Haywood and the Vancouver Sun Juvenile Band led by R.J. Peebles.

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