Marching Through Time at Centennial Plaza Park


Shining the Spotlight on Community Stewardship and High School Band History

A Love Your Parks Tour Music Story by Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid

Dedicated in 2005, Centennial Plaza Park is located across from City Hall on Main Street, in historic downtown Porterville, California. We first set foot in this community park as part of our visit to Tulare County in central California, which along with being a major agricultural region, is home to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, as well as Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest.

The park’s large gazebo and stage were built in honor of Homer W. Wood, the late publisher of the local newspaper, The Porterville Recorder, which is getting ready to celebrate its 111th anniversary this May. It’s the location for the popular Music on Main, a free Friday night concert series presented by the Porterville Chamber of Commerce and the City of Porterville during the spring and fall. We’ve been fortunate to experience a couple of fantastic blues and rock performances by our friend Pete Grant and his bandmates, and it was great to see all the families and friends come together for the event, bringing their picnic blankets and chairs, and dancing shoes.

Porterville is known for its incredible high school bands with a history that dates back to 1902, the same year that the City was incorporated. They’re a fixture at local parades and festivals, and also travel out to perform. In the late 1980s they made history when the Porterville Panther Band marched in the Annual Tournament of Roses Parade, Hollywood Christmas Parade, and performed at Disneyland. The Monache Band and Choir also competed in the World of Music Festival in Hawaii, and was awarded first and second place in a number of categories. This band also marched at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, and performed at a San Diego Chargers game, Los Angeles Olympic Games, and even went on a summer tour of Europe!

Centennial Plaza Park features an 18-foot, four-dial, Howard post clock with a statue honoring the late, great, Frank “Buck” Shaffer, the band director credited with his 37 year leadership of the noteworthy Porterville High School Band and its Fabulous Studio Band. Painted by Three Rivers artist Glen Hill, the double-sided “Marching Through Time” mural shares the chronology of the bands with the back of the mural featuring the snow-capped Sierra Nevada and musical notes with band member names and years.

Porterville’s band history is also honored at the Porterville Historical Museum, where you can see band memorabilia and a life-size mannequin of Frank “Buck” Shaffer.

For more about California’s Sequoia Country, visit

Sequoia Tourism Council

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