In front of more than 60,000 spectators crowded along the streets of downtown Raleigh, the Leesville Symphonic Band and Colorguard marched among 115 floats, bands and groups in the 70th annual Raleigh Christmas Parade on Nov. 22.
Marching in the parade is a yearly tradition for the band, which was able to secure one of the leading slots in this year’s parade order. Surrounded by the chilly morning air and thousands of festive parade-goers, the band marched the route — 11 blocks along Hillsborough and Fayetteville streets, including past the state Capitol Building — in about an hour.
Madeline Downs, senior drum major, enjoyed the opportunity to march her band in front of such a large audience.
“I think it’s a great experience because it’s a big event in Raleigh and everyone knows about it,” she said. “It’s fun because we get to play Christmas music…kicking off the Christmas season.”
The Colorguard led the way with snowflake-emblemed flags, a flashy entrance for the uniformed and stoic rows of drum, flute and tuba players which followed them. The entire ensemble made an appearance on television — the parade was aired live on WRAL and will be re-run every Saturday between now and Christmas — when they passed by cameras near the south end of Fayetteville St.
Bradley Turner, senior trumpet player, was also pleased with both the crowd of parade-goers and the band’s performance.
“We had a huge turnout with the crowd,” he said. “I had a good time [and] the rest of the band also had a good time I think.”
Turner noted that the successful march was particularly satisfying this year, as the band has had to overcome a number of troubles early in this 2014-15 school year. Several key members unexpectedly left at the start of the semester, leaving Downs — a first-time drum major — and the rest of the band’s leadership with more challenges.
But by mid-morning on November 22, those obstacles had been put aside to focus on the band’s most important performance of the year, at least in terms of audience.
Said Downs, “Getting to march in a parade, especially where thousands of people see you, and for people to know who we are…that’s really important to us.