Mt. Lebanon band to march at Derby parade

March 8, 2012 5:50 am

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Mt. Lebanon High School Blue Devil band will march in front of what planners expect will be hundreds of thousands of spectators in the Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade in Louisville, Ky., on May 3.

Band director Louise Marino said the band has performed at the St. Patrick's Day parades in New York and Chicago and at various bowl games, but this trip marks the band's first appearance at the Derby festival and its parade.

The band will march 1.8 miles and play the theme song from "Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark," a tune Ms. Marino said is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

"We try to pick music that is interesting ...and that [the band] enjoys performing," she said.

To prepare for the 1.8-mile route, the band begins special parade practices in April. They'll gradually add laps and loops to build stamina so "the kids aren't sucking wind," Ms. Marino said.

Though the 130 students in the band won't attend the Derby itself May 5, they'll have other activities to keep them busy. After the Thursday evening parade, students will travel to Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park in Mason, Ohio, then spend Friday at King's Island of Adventure amusement park before heading home Saturday.

Ms. Marino opted out of the competition portion of the parade, which would feature the winning band in a Derby ring performance. Some students, and a staff member, need to be home for a musical the following week.

The trip, including bus transportation and lodging, costs each student $450. Band members have been raising money since a July 4th kickoff watermelon sale.

Ambridge Area and Wilmington Area high school bands, and the U.S. Marine Corps band in New Cumberland, round out the three groups representing Pennsylvania in the parade.

At a recent spaghetti dinner, the students worked two- to four-hour shifts, waiting on and busing tables, preparing takeout orders and helping in the kitchen. The proceeds went toward the students' trip credit accounts and are divided among every student who put in the hours, Ms. Marino said.

According to the event website, the Pegasus Parade started in 1956 with a budget of $640. Last year, a record crowd of 275,000 attended the parade, the festival's oldest and founding event.

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.
First Published 2012-03-08 04:51:21

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