Sunday , 20 May 2018

Michele Stevens Bernard: Dear McKinney Marching Bands, I Miss Seeing You In Parades

By Michele Stevens Bernard, TSB Lifestyle Editor

She has me at hello.

The lady says she is calling on behalf of the McKinney High School Band Boosters. With that, I know I will say yes to whatever she is selling. When she briefly slows down to take her first breath, I try to say yes. She plows ahead quickly listing all the ways I am sure to save money by using the coupon booklet she represents. I let her finish her litany. After all, I reason, as the mother of three, I’ve spent a phone call or two in the same booster trenches I imagine this mom to be sitting in now.

Eventually, she invites me to buy. I do, to the tune of $40. Each McKinney High School’s Band Booster organizations will get a portion of my donation. I tell her to keep the coupon booklet and to pay it forward as she sees fit. I feel generous. It’s parade day. 

As the lady on the phone lists the many ways I will benefit with the coupon booklet, I wonder why a parent is calling instead of a member of one of the marching bands. I mentally answer my own question guessing that perhaps her child is a member of the McKinney High School marching band, and seeing that this is Homecoming Parade Day, I figure said band member is probably in parade mode.

There’s something exhilarating about a parade. The anticipatory rat-a-tat-tat cadence of the approaching high school marching band growing louder as it clicks closer. The bass drum thumping closer and closer, reverberating right through to your very soul. The crisp rhythm of synchronized feet rising and falling together, the clink of instruments poised at ready, the shrill whistle of the drum major, the majestic fanfare of brass, the breathtaking trill of the flutes.

There is something exhilarating about a parade. That is, until you realize that the band is not there. Such is the case each 4th of July in McKinney, when the city lines the streets to celebrate with Every City, USA. Where are our marching bands? I ask this every year. I reason its summertime. The kids aren’t here. The parents and boosters and school personnel are off duty. There won’t be any local high school marching bands in this parade.

Unfortunate, but understandable.

Or is it?

There is something exhilarating about a parade. That is, until you realize the marching band is not there.  Such is the case for this year’s McKinney High School Homecoming parade when the marching band is not in fact going to march in their own parade, because, they are otherwise occupied preparing to march later the same day in UIL marching competition in Plano. 

Unfortunate, but understandable.

Or is it?

I, for one, miss seeing you in parades, McKinney marching bands. Believe it or not, there was a time when McKinney marching bands marched in McKinney parades. And not just in parades or functions that were directly linked to the school or to fundraising either. I know this to be a fact, because I did it. Even in junior high. Every parade had not one, but two McKinney marching bands. Can you just imagine the kind of parade we could have if all of McKinney’s junior high and high school bands came together to participate with the rest of the city in our parades? 

As a citizen and former marching band member, I would love to see McKinney’s marching bands representing themselves, their schools and our city in parades that happen in our city. Furthermore, I would even be willing to drive to see our bands marching through the streets of Dallas and beyond. As a matter of fact, I’d even be willing to help our bands monetarily achieve their goals so they can march in other parades and competitions too. Which is why I knew that I would say yes when the lady called me on parade day. 

At the end of our conversation, I ask the lady on the other end of the phone about her band member.

“Which school does your child go to?” I ask. “What instrument does he or she play?”

She stammered a bit. Then she explained. This is when I learn that the lady is not, in fact, the parent of a child in any of the McKinney high school marching bands, but is actually an employee of the coupon booklet company. She is merely calling on behalf of the booster clubs. 

Oh. An unfortunate mistake on my part, but understandable.

Or is it?

Feeling slightly confused and tricked, much like I do when I show up for parades expecting to see and hear a marching band, I decide to withdraw my donation. I decide instead to hand-deliver my donation to each school with a copy of this article and my personal plea to please bring McKinney high school marching bands back into the long time parade traditions of our city.

I believe it’s important for citizens to support our local high school marching bands. I will continue to do so, and encourage you to do so as well. However, I also believe it’s important for our local high school marching bands to support our city and citizens. Participate in and be a part of our community traditions. Please.

Especially if you’re going to have your members/parents agents call and ask for money on a parade day.

Michele Stevens Bernard is Lifestyle Editor of

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