Mac High marchers ready for big parade
Mac High is making its debut in the parade, set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The events will be broadcast live on Portland’s Channel 12 from 9 to 11 p.m.
The musicians will wear glow sticks, as will members of the accompanying dance, flag and cheerleading squads. The glow sticks will help make them more visible as they negotiate the 2.3-mile parade route.
The band will play a set of cadences from “The Spanish Parade” at 120 beats per minute. The dance team, flag bearers and cheerleaders have worked up accompanying routines, which they will perform periodically along the way.
Demianew, who teaches middle school choir, formed the marching band last year. He started with a drumline in the summer and added brass and woodwind components in the fall.
The musicians will be wearing matching uniforms in red and black — the school colors.
Since they received the invitation, they have been practicing tirelessly. They’ve been rehearsing after school several times a week, and marched in McMinnville’s UFO Parade to work out some of the kinks.
As they stepped through their final rehearsals this week, members said they were excited — and nervous — about Saturday’s big event.
“This is an amazing opportunity for them,” said Gina Regalado, who coaches the dance team. “They’ll have amazing memories from this.”
Regalado recalled marching in parades when growing up in Texas. She said she took great pride in representing her school and community.
Ehrhart agreed, saying, “It was always a big dream of mine to be part of a marching band. A marching band completes a high school.”
She loves music. She plays bass guitar in Mac High’s jazz band and contrabass and bass clarinet in the symphonic band.
When she heard a marching band was being created, she didn’t think twice before signing up.
“Marching is all about dedication and precision,” said Ehrhart, a senior. “It’s about show, too, and being right on the beat.”
The latter is a particular concern for her. As lead snare, it’s her responsibility to keep the beat as the band moves.
Marika Huffer plays the smallest instrument in the band, the piccolo. She plays the flute in other Mac High bands.
She said she’s really enjoying the marching band. She likes the combination of the sound and the environment.
“The hardest part is memorizing the music,” Huffer said. But she’d rather play from memory than wear a piccolo lyre on her arm.
One of the best parts, she said, is getting to don the uniform. “Our uniforms are pretty sharp,” she said.
For tuba player Aaron Ramirez, the best part is playing for all the people lining the route. It’s like a long, long audience that applauds constantly, he said.
Although Ramirez is a big, strong guy, marching with his instrument is challenging. He lifts the tuba onto his shoulder when he’s playing, and carries it in his arms during breaks in the music.
“You need a lot of air to play tuba, and marching takes it out of you,” he said. “I have to train myself.”
Ramirez also plays tuba in the symphonic band. He plays trombone in the jazz band.
He began playing in the fifth grade, and said, “I never want to quit.”
Monze Earra marches directly behind Ramirez. She can see his head, and his tuba, rising above the bass drum that otherwise blocks her view.
She joined the band last summer because she enjoys drumming. She’s excited about Saturday’s parade, saying, “I think it will be loud — and long.”
In addition to Mac High students, the band includes several middle school musicians. The count includes Autumn Ketzer-Stumpf, who plays tenor sax.
She’s enjoyed working with the older musicians. “We’re all really devoted people,” she said. “We all love music.”
Ketzer-Stumpf will also be playing with her middle school band Saturday. It will be performing at Portland’s Oaks Park prior to the Starlight Parade.
The day is going to be a real workout, she said. “It will be tiring, but fun,” she said.
For Ashley Lavender, a dance team member, the parade will provide a chance for her to demonstrate a brand-new skill — baton twirling.
When Regalado asked for a volunteer to serve as majorette, and lead Mac’s entry, Ashley raised her hand. “My grandmother was a baton twirler,” she said.
Ashley learned to twirl by watching a DVD. She also learned some tips from her grandmother, Debbie Carl.
But mostly, she said, it’s just been a matter of practicing and practicing.
“It’s stressful,” she said. “It’s a lot of work. But I’m really excited about Saturday.”
Once the parade starts and the adrenaline kicks in, she said, “twirling will come easily.”
A map and additional parade detail may be found at www.rosefestival.org/parades/starlight-parade/event-info.