Helena High School band performs at St. Patrick’s Day parade in NYC

Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2023

By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter

NEW YORK – Students from Helena High School’s band recently traveled to New York City to perform in the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade for a memorable trip and experience.

“It was an incredible experience,” said Jeff Burnside, director of bands at Helena High School. “Most of the students on the trip had never been to New York and few, including parents, had never seen a live Broadway performance. The students enjoyed seeing a lot of the sights they got to experience, but the parade performance was definitely the highlight of the trip.”

Burnside said the band was fortunate with their position in the parade in that the band was close to the crowd along the parade route and they got to perform for several hundred thousand people along the way, plus those who watched on television.

“Unfortunately for us, the graphic on the television listed us as Helena, Montana, but at least the announcer got it correct,” Burnside said.

A total of 204 people went on the trip, including 149 students.

The band wanted to play something different than the St. Patrick’s Day music that is traditionally played at events, so the group performed a marching band arrangement of “Shut Up and Dance,” made popular by the group “Walk the Moon,” which Burnside said seemed to go over really well with the crowd.

Trip highlights included the parade, and being able to entertain the crowd in the band’s staging area before the parade officially began.

Additionally, Burnside said attending the 9/11 Museum was high on the list of special experiences, as well as attending Broadway Shows which included Aladdin and Some Like IT Hot.

“Getting to experience live entertainment on that level is always a great thing,” Burnside said. “Trips like this, which provide incredible learning opportunities for students, are made possible by supportive parents and a supportive school. The Shelby County School system recognizes the importance of such events and support groups with their endeavors to make them happen. The band parents we have at Helena also welcome the opportunities for these experiences and work hard to make sure that they are open to all the students in our program.”

Hoover High School’s band also performed in the parade.

State Rep. Leigh Hulsey congratulated both schools on the accomplishment of performing at the parade in a Facebook post by saying both the schools represented the state of Alabama and District 15 well.

“I have been an educator for 35 years and it never ceases to amaze me how professional a group of teenagers with a common bond and high expectations can carry themselves,” Burnside said. “I have no doubt that this trip will leave lasting memories for all that participated, students, parents and teachers alike.”