"Pfft. Please! I'll be cooking barbecue and heading down to the local fireworks. Not interested!" When we talk with marching band directors about participation in America's National Independence Day Parade, especially when it means traveling to another part of the country to do so, we hear this kind of response a lot. Many ask us why they would bother doing such a thing. After all, what is the July 4 holiday for but to rest and relax! What better time for a band director to "turn off" and not think about reeds, uniform hemlines, marching drills, and so on? It's hard to argue with that. But, it's hard to dismiss the remarkable, overwhelming emotional experiences we see, hear about, and witness ourselves, when bands do make the trip out to Washington, DC to march in the parade.
The parade experience was indescribable. I wish I had words for what it felt like to turn the corner onto Constitution and hear and see the roaring crowd for us...It was overwhelming and it sunk in all the hard work and months of planning that got us to that moment and when we turned the corner it was obvious it all was worth it!!
Pam Diem, Band Director
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Marching Saints
Words cannot describe the feeling of marching down Constitution Avenue on the Fourth of July. Flags are waving, crowds are screaming, bands are playing and everyone is proud to be an American. Surrounded by historical sites, I get chill bumps and tears in my eyes as I proudly watch my students experience the memory of a lifetime.
Karen Dismuke, Band Director
North Pulaski High School
It was an incredible experience to see all of the spectators cheering on the students as they played their hearts out. After the parade, the band members said that it was the best they had ever performed. Thank you so much for inviting us to perform and experience this incredible parade and event!
Julie Trent, Band Director
Willow Canyon High School
As we come up on this year's Independence Day holiday, we'd like to muse on three undeniable reasons for band directors to apply for their groups to march in America's National Independence Day Parade:
- You and your band will receive incredible recognition due to your participation in the parade, including:
- accolades from your peers and school administrators (we see this every year - it's impressive).
- local and national press coverage.
- an official proclamation from your governor as your state's representative.
- Bands march along Historic Constitution Avenue, along the National Mall, in front of, or across from, some of the most famous and historic buildings in the world (hint: major photo op for your band), including:
- The National Archives Building (where the U.S. Constitution is housed)
- The Department of Justice Building
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- The International Revenue Service Building (we encourage marching faster here...)
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History
- The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
- The Washington Monument
- The White House (great view from one block over)
- After the parade, watch A Capitol Fourth, the PBS television broadcast, from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building. The show typically includes:
- Celebrity hosts and entertainers
- The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard)
- The United States Army Band (Pershing's Own)
- The Choral Arts Society of Washington
- A National Symphony Orchestra performance, including Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, replete with full cannon fire, and far and away the country's most spectacular fireworks show - which takes place with the Washington Monument in the backdrop
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