Pride of Shelby County performs during once in a lifetime trip to Chicago

Published 4:36 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

CHICAGO, Ill. – With horns aloft and pride in their step, members of Shelby County High School’s band represented their home county during the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The Pride of Shelby County marching band traveled to Chicago, Illinois and had the once in a lifetime opportunity to perform in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 16 as well as enjoy a nice trip sightseeing in the city.

“Overall, it was a really great trip for us,” SCHS Director of Bands Matt Martindale said. “This was our first national parade that we went to, so it was a good thing for our program to take the next step toward some bigger time performances.”

The initial planning and pitch for the band’s performance started a year earlier, when Martindale searched for a space to perform and reached out to several parades across the country. Martindale presented the idea of the trip to the Shelby County Schools Board of Education and then the band began collecting money and fundraisers after announcing the trip at the beginning of the school year. The journey culminated in the band heading out for Chicago on Wednesday, March 13 for a five day adventure.

The students had the opportunity to visit multiple museums, enjoy deep dish pizza, go to the top of the Willis Tower, do some shopping, see a performance by the Blue Man Group and take a dinner cruise on Navy Pier.

“The buildings were lit up green since it was the St. Patrick’s Day celebration that day and the river was dyed green,” Martindale said. “It was a fun trip.”

Once it came time for the main event on Saturday, the Pride of Shelby County performed the Irish nursery rhyme and tune “Michael Finnegan” to go along with the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, during which the students marched down Columbus Avenue.

“In the parade, we were one of four groups that did what they call a ‘stop and perform,’” Martindale said. “So, we stopped and the TV cameras that were covering the parade filmed us.”

Martindale said that, when he first introduced the idea of the trip, he introduced it as a once in a lifetime experience.

“These students aren’t going to do this trip together again,” he said. “They may go to Chicago again, they may march in other parades with each other at different times but we’re not going to do that one together again as a group. So, it really is like a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to do it.”

Martindale said a parent came to him at the end of the parade and told him that the experience was even better than he had told them it would be.

“It was a very positive trip—lots of great things that came from it,” Martindale said. “It’s a stepping stone towards what we’re going to build to in the future.”