Normal Marching Band visits Chicago Thanksgiving Parade


It is at this time of the year that the Normal Marching Band is preparing for the next season. There are plans to put in place, music to select and routines to learn.

But this year, NMB still has its work cut out for it after the 120-member group received its very first invitation to parade in the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade. They will be there live, but the parade will also be broadcast live via the organization’s Facebook page from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday morning.

“This is our first joint venture outside of what would be a more typical competition,” said group director Ryan Budzinski. did in the three years preceding this invitation. ”

In particular, this is an important step for the group since it has only existed for about four years. The Normal Marching Band was formed by bringing together members of the Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School marching bands a few years ago. That its early years of existence included more than a one-year pandemic that upended traditional practices didn’t help matters, but Budzinski said the students worked hard regardless of the challenges.

“I think every group director says it, but we think we have some of the best students in central Illinois… And they really took whatever we asked them to do so they could keep doing the teaching. music, ”he said. “Last year’s season looked really different because it was behind a video screen and not with a live audience, but they worked … to have a great season where we submitted virtual videos to competitions and things like that. ”

NMB Drum Major Shelby Hailey said she hasn’t forgotten the unique challenges COVID-19 protocols have created for the group’s practice.

“Last year, from a student’s perspective, it was really tough because it was at a time when we had to wear masks outside in 90 degree weather. It wasn’t a fun part, ”she said.

Braden Pool said students have to learn a “new normal” in practices unlike anything he was used to before.

“It wasn’t too easy,” he said. “Coming back this year to a more open fanfare idea has really allowed us to express ourselves more, to come out and play a lot better. ”

Budzinski said nothing can replicate the feeling of performing in front of a live audience, which is part of why the Chicago invitation is so important after the past 18 months.

“A lot of us must have cheered socially distant and on the internet last year, so to be able to do that, and then to culminate this season walking down State Street with tens of thousands – maybe more than that – supporting these. students along the course (is) a really exciting way to end the year, ”he said.

When asked if the NMB members are nervous or excited for the event, Pool said that overall, the students are eager to perform.

“I’m sure some of us are nervous … but I think we all know from our training and reps we’re going to play really well,” he said. “We are really delighted to end the season on a very positive note. ”

Hailey said she remembered the group room buzzing with excitement once the invitation arrived a few weeks ago.

“I know everyone is going to practice chatting about what we’re going to wear, about the outfits, about everything. We’re all very excited,” she said.


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