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MU Homecoming Parade offers big stage for small-town bands

Saturday, October 24, 2009 | 1:22 p.m. CDT; updated 10:21 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 24, 2009
Ashley Zimmer, 16, center, a junior at Fatima High School in Westphalia, practices marching in formation with the band before the start of the MU Homecoming Parade at the Conley Avenue parking garage on Saturday. This is Zimmer's third year in the marching band.

COLUMBIA — MU’s Conley Avenue Parking Garage might have been the loudest place on campus Saturday morning. High school marching bands warmed up there and waited to step off for the MU Homecoming Parade.

For some bands, the parade is the main event of their marching season; some drove more than two hours to march in it.

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Adair County R-II High School

The Adair County R-II High School Marching Tigers warmed up after a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride.

With 20 band members, eight color guard members and a drum line that consists of one snare drummer, one bass drummer and one cymbals player, the band from Brashear might have seemed small, but their sound was strong.

After an exuberant drum roll, Rick James’ “Super Freak” reverberated off the concrete walls. The lone tuba was tuned afterward.

“It can be a lot of pressure, being the only tuba player,” sophomore Christopher Langano said.

This was the longest and biggest event of the year for the Marching Tigers.

“We’re used to a parade that takes 10 to 15 minutes,” band director Jeremy Haupt said. “The Mizzou parade takes a good half-hour. You can get kind of overwhelmed.”

No one looked overwhelmed; they were just trying to keep warm air flowing through their horns.

“We need to save lip energy, or as I call it, jaw energy,” senior trombone player Stephanie Linhart said.

The color guard also warmed up wearing black with bright orange sash belts around their waists.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.”

The faded flags followed in unison as the girls counted, swooped, twirled and tossed.

All members agreed that tosses are their favorite move as they huddled in a group after practice.

“But you have to love the glitter and hairspray,” freshman Wendy Clarkson added.

Fatima High School  

After a two-hour bus ride on two buses, the Fatima High School Marching Band was ready to go.

Arriving at the parking garage in style, the small band from Westphalia rocked their way up the ramp to the top tier by marching to a heavy drum cadence. Their blue-feathered plumes waved in the chilly autumn air.

“We practiced every day for this and marched every day,” junior drum major Josh Swyers said.

This was the fifth parade that the Fatima marching band has participated in this season, and, according to Swyers, the secret to keeping the bands energy level up is simple.

“Cadence Three, that’s what we play when we’re tired,” he said.

The exuberance of the band an hour before parade step off worried band director Ray Cardwell.

“We get here and don’t step off for probably another two hours, so I hope we can keep this peak up,” he said.

Fatima’s regular daily practice outside was put on hold this week because of inclement weather.

“The rain didn’t let us get outside too much, but when we get outside, people from the post office and parochial school in town watch us,” junior color guard member Katrina Dills said. “We have a fan club.”

Even though the majority of their fan club wasn’t in Columbia, Dills thought the cheering crowd would keep them going.

“The people cheering, it encourages you to do better, smile and do your best.”


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