SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On Memorial Day, the Harrisburg High School marching band took to the streets of Washington D.C., performing in the National Memorial Day Parade.
Now, nearly a month after the march, members have time to reflect on the trip.
Band director Jason Groon has been with Harrisburg for 14 years. He says that a trip of this scale was in the works for some time.
“A couple years ago the other directors and I have wanted to branch out — and we were looking to showcase the band on a national stage,” Groon said. “Low and behold, we got an email from Senator Rounds’ office looking for a band to represent the state in the National Memorial Day Parade.”
Preparation for the parade began 18 months ago and included a large amount of fundraising to meet the $150,000 price tag for the trip.
Groon remembers a hot day in D.C. during the march, which he says began swiftly. “Once you step out from the staging area, you turn a corner and you are on Constitution Avenue and in the parade,” he said.
Elijah Schipper, now an alum of the Harrisburg band, played trumpet in the parade. He remembers that turn onto Constitution Avenue well.
“It was very emotional,” Schipper said. “It was very surreal knowing this was the last time I would be able to march with [the band] — turning that corner and seeing thousands of people cheering the loudest they can to hear little Harrisburg South Dakota play our music — there were so many emotions.”
Schipper says his favorite part of the experience was the time spent with his friends.
Marching on a street was also an interesting experience, as Schipper says it varies greatly from marching on a field. “On a field, you have yard lines — on a street, it’s completely different.”
Schipper was a section leader, which means he was responsible for helping train some of the other members in marching… and he remembers how new members can struggle — he was once one himself.
“I have to give them credit for their perseverance,” Schipper said. “The difference between day one and how we performed in that parade — it was literally a different band.”
Asked what he thought was important to say about the experience, Schipper made sure to pause and thank some people. “I think it’s important to note the amount of fundraising that went into this, not just with the students, but with the band boosters,” he said. “The students were a large part of the performance, but looking at the background, we need to thank the band booster program — and also just the community itself.”