by Mallory Moad
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“Welcome to Selma, Raisin Capital of the world!” That’s where I was on an unusually warm Halloween, waiting for the start of the 51st Annual Selma Rotary Marching Band Festival Parade. I’d really been looking forward to this, because not only do I love parades, I’ve got a thing for marching bands, too. This was going to be awesome! Bring ’em on!
This is Selma’s only parade, but it’s a big one. This year, 36 bands participated and more than 10,000 spectators lined the street to cheer for their favorites. The festival was founded in1964 by Pat Balakian and Pete Esraelian as a way for Selma High School’s marching band to compete against other schools without the distraction of a stadium full of football fans. Their idea was a success. Middle and high school bands from throughout California have been coming to Selma to compete in parade and field presentations ever since, and the event that has become one of the largest of its kind.
Leading the parade with style was the home team, Selma High School’s Black Bear Brigade, dressed in sophisticated black and orange (a perfect look for the day) and playing a thunderous arrangement of Night Flight. Let the show begin!
Appearance is crucial (if it wasn’t, they’d all just be wearing sweats). From Golden Valley High School’s cool, classic look of red jackets paired with white trousers to Dinuba’s Roman-inspired capes and helmets and Kerman High School’s casual but colorful tie dyed shirts and Dia de los Muertos face makeup, everyone looked sharp.
There was just as much variety in musical selections. While the majority of bands played rousing renditions of standard marches like “Manhattan Beach March” and “The Liberty Bell March” (known by some as the Monty Python theme song) there was the occasional pop tune such as “Mr. Roboto” or that sporting-event chestnut, “Rock And Roll Part 2”.
Representatives of the Selma community were part of the day’s activities, too. Floats from local elementary schools paid tribute to the parade’s theme, Halloween Hullabaloo, with humor, creativity and lots of zombies. Costumed members of the Selma City Council laughed and joked with the crowd. There was even a fitting appearance by cast members from a local production of The Music Man.
Playing in a marching band is hard work, multi-tasking to the max. You have to follow verbal and visual commands, stand up straight, march in time (and in some cases, while executing some fancy footwork), maintain tight formation, and play a complicated series of correct notes on an unforgiving instrument while not looking as if your head is about to explode. But as all the bands in the Selma Rotary Marching Band Festival Parade proved, this can be accomplished with dedication and determination. And while it’s nice to win awards and the bragging rights to go with them, winning the pride of your community is even better.
My name is Mallory Moad and I love parades … and marching bands … and Halloween, too.
You can find all of Mallory’s Valley Parade articles in KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section.