Over the summer, the Marching Grenadiers were selected to play in the National Independence Day Parade and drove nearly 750 miles to Washington, D.C. This season, they have finished their first two competitions and are preparing for their annual trip to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Students of all ages, including some graduates, prepared to play in the parade in June. After school ended, they spent several days in addition to the traditional two week band camp learning the piece and the movements.
Junior Justin Dembowski preferred taking buses to airplanes because of the severe cost reduction and “we got to spend a lot of time with our friends, and when we arrived, we got to tour on the buses.”
Students enjoyed marching through the streets of Washington, D.C. They marched for about from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.. The route was about a mile long.
Senior drum major Kelly Rogers noticed a large difference in the number of spectators.
“The only parade I had performed in is our hometown parade and normally there’s a good turnout for it. But when we turned a corner and began ‘Salute to America,’ I saw rows and rows of people all squished together to see us. They all cheered and were clapping to the song!”
The parade was streamed online, and there are videos of the parade itself and rehearsal on YouTube.
In addition to the parade itself, they stopped at many of Washington, D.C.’s tourist attractions including the Capitol Building, the Holocaust Museum and the Aerospace Museum.
After the parade, they had their annual band camp for two weeks to prepare for their marching competitions in the fall. Band members of all ages attended. During the camp, they memorized the music, field placements and bonded as a team.
More recently, their first competition took place in Lake Park on September 10. Their show is “Coven,” a music set based off of the witches from the Shakespearean play “Macbeth.”
Although they were “getting the cobwebs out” as Band Director Ron Fiorito described it, the students kept their chins up and continued to work hard.
Senior Drum Major Melina Papadakis said, “the band took their disappointment and turned it into motivation. In a week with only one 3 hour after school rehearsal and three hours or pre-competition rehearsal, we showed huge improvement and were able give a cleaner, dynamic performance.”
In their second competition the following Saturday, they placed much better. The Marching Grenadiers got 3rd place, missing 2nd by a tenth of a point. They got 2nd in many of the captions.
Senior Drum Major Mary Daniels said that when performing, she “always gets really nervous, but after the nerves are gone, nothing compares to the proud feeling I get when I hear the band play all together for the first time in the show.”
The trip to the competition at the University of Illinois is October 15.