Pictures of Parade Day 2012:
Being in the Marching Band for 4 years now is a huge accomplishment that is coming to an end. However, this Saturday on St. Patrick’s Day is the last year to take in the experience of the Parade as a last year senior. Senior Drum Major William Wright says “I want my last St. Partrick’s Day parade to sound strong and by the way we’ve been playing and practicing we should be able to put on a great show.” Following are the thoughts of Band Director Mr. McNulty:
Well, if one parade that stands out from the rest it would be the blizzard of ‘93. It started snowing the night before the parade and continued through parade day. I was up at 5:00 am making the hot chocolate and looking out the window wondering if I should cancel our appearance in the parade. When you are wondering about a thing like that it is difficult. If I call off the sun might come up and melt half the snow by parade time at 10:00. On the other hand I have to make the decision before parents start to clear off the snow from their cars to drive their kids to our meeting point at SLS at 8:30. Finally I said it is not worth putting students and parents into harms way over the parade. Once I decided to cancel the work began. This was before everyone had cell phones. I had to call all the students and parents and tell them the news. As I called I had parents asking if they could help make some calls. It was very gratifying to have so many people offer to help. Next I thought we may not reach everyone so I called KDKA radio and asked them to make an announcement of our cancellation. I thought that might be a quick call, but no. When I reached KDKA and explained the situation they asked for a “school code” and I said I did not have one. I got off the phone and tried to find my school faculty directory to get the number of our principal to get the code. I had no luck. I called KDKA back and explained the situation and that I did not want anyone to have a fender bender or worse, please would you make the announcement. The person finally said they would make the announcement. The parade actually went on as scheduled but without SLS and without a lot of other groups. A funny thing about that late winter snow is that it went away almost as fast as it came. By Sunday of that same weekend half of it had melted in the sun. The one regret I had was that I missed one family. We called their house but dad and student had already started for SLS. Naturally, these were the most conscientious people you would ever want to meet. They lived in Monongahela PA (about forty minutes away on a sunny no traffic day) and had gotten up extra early to make sure they were on time. I felt really bad until I spoke to them a couple of weeks later. They said “It was alright. They only got about half way to SLS when the heard the KDKA announcement”
What preparation goes into the parade behind the scene, well we need to start early. I select an authentic Irish tune. I always think it is funny that other bands go to the parade and play something like “God Bless America” or totally unrelated to St. Patrick’s Day. Then I have to write a suitable band arrangement for us. Then we need to rehearse it. Once the students learn to play it I ask them to memorize it. Musicians always play better when the sheet music does not get in the way. Also in St. Patrick’s Day weather the wind, rain, and snow can make sheets music a pain to deal with. As the Musicians are preparing I need to make sure our Rebelettes and Silks are ready, too. This requires getting the counts of the song to their coaches and sometimes copies of the music on a CD. This requires a recording session with the Musicians. Next there has to be a full rehearsal of all the separate groups so we can coordinate the project. There are buses to be ordered, paper work to fill out for the parade committee, and PA announcer. I need to get the logistical information that the parade committee sends out and get it to the parents. This is important because parents have to arrange their schedules so they can drop off and pick up their children. I also coordinate with Band Parent’s to get goodies for the students for the end of the parade. Next I have to see if I can get a parent to drive what I call a safety vehicle. This is a van that follows us in the parade incase one of our members feels they cannot finish the march. I also need to get the electronics together for our bass players. This means getting an AC converter so we can plug our bass amplifier into the cigarette lighter or auxiliary port in the safety vehicle. There are a lot of different wires required to set this up so we need to make sure we have them all when we get to the parade staging area. I need to find two or three people to help to carry the SLS parade banner announcing who we are to the spectators. Other than those couple thing there is not much to it.
Why do I do this? Well you have to have marched in this type of a parade to understand the feeling of the performance. The atmosphere at the parade is exciting. People are having fun and dancing to the music that we provide. There are just thousands of people who come out for this parade. It is the largest audience we ever play for. I want my students to experience the exhilaration and pride of participating in such an event.