Oak Mountain band performs at Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.
Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023
By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer
SHELBY COUNTY – The Oak Mountain band hit the road as they performed in the National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington D.C. on Saturday morning.
“It’s a part of a two-week culmination that D.C. puts on to celebrate the spring time,” said Spirit of Cahaba Marching Band Associate Director Dr. Travis Bender. “It is the largest event the city hosts each year.”
Bender said that Washington D.C. estimates nearly 4 million people attend the festival yearly, putting Oak Mountain’s band on a large platform for everyone to see.
“We submitted an application and were accepted to go up there and perform,” Bender said. “We took 200 kids with us and stayed for six days. It has been a whirlwind of a week.”
This parade is the third largest, coming up just behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rose Parade, also known as the Tournament of Roses Parade.
“The parade has several hundred units,” Bender said. “We were near the end of the parade to wrap the event up. It is regionally televised, so it was a great opportunity for our kids to have an experience performing on live television.”
The parade route went down Constitution Avenue and started at the National Archives, going just past the White House.
“All of these kids have never marched in anything on this scale,” Bender said. “They were enthralled with the number of people cheering for them.”
There were also many members of the local Oak Mountain community who showed up to the parade to support the band.
“We had a big contingency of people in the Oak Mountain community who flew or drove to support us,” Bender said. “So, as we were going down the parade route, it was great to hear people shouting out, ‘Oak Mountain!’ There was a whole section of The grandstands filled with people in the Oak Mountain community. When we passed that, it was really fun. There were people peppered all throughout the parade route who recognized our school.”
Bender said that as the band went down the parade route, there were also many in attendance who would cry out, ‘Roll Tide!’ or ‘War Eagle!’ as the band went down the avenue.
“It was great to have that kind of support for our band program,” Bender said. “We would like continue applying for some other big parades. We are looking at something like the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade or the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.”
Bender said the program is hoping to continue to build up its resume with parades, the pinnacle parades to achieve would be the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Rose Parade.