African American Heritage Day Parade
Newark, NJ

by Al-Quadir Marsh, as told to Jim Gerrish.

The East Orange Unified Marching Band performed in the Newark African American Heritage Day Parade on Sunday, May 30. Although the parade didn't start until 1:00 PM, the band came to Cicely Tyson school early so we could take their individual Formal Band Photos showing them dressed up in their Band Uniforms and carrying their Instruments. Then, about 11:00 AM the band members got on the buses and departed for Newark's Lincoln Park, the starting point of the parade.

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

They marched into Lincoln Park to the beat of the drums. Behind them, you can see the parade beginning to form up on Broad Street.

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

Right behind the band came a group of Band Parent Association members, some of their children, and the all-important cooler filled with juice drinks.

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The band lined up along one edge of the park, but decided they needed another place to tune up and practice before the beginning of the parade.

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

They got back into marching formation and moved to a more private area of the park, away from the other bands, so they could hear themselves tune up.

Photos by Al-Quadir Marsh; East Orange on the left and Orange on the right.

As the East Orange Unified Band stepped away to tune and practice, the Orange High School Marching Tornadoes band decided to check them out. Then the James Smooth School band from Brooklyn marched closer and issued a musical challenge to the East Orange Band. But before East Orange could respond, the James Smooth band was called away by the parade organizers to take their positions in the parade.

Next, the Plainfield School band stepped up to East Orange and got their two cents in, but they were also called away to line up on Broad Street for the parade. Finally, Orange decided to get in on the competition and played a piece to challenge East Orange. It's too bad the video camera was not there to capture the musical battle. When East Orange responded to Orange's challenge, they ended with a drumline "reminder" about their previous "Drumline Showdown" with Orange, but just as the Orange drumline got ready to make their response, they were called away to take up their position in the parade. So the battle was unfinished and may have to be completed some other time. Maybe tomorrow at the Memorial Day Parade in East Orange?

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

Now it was the turn of the East Orange Unified Marching Band to take a position in the parade out on Broad Street, and they were off and marching, too busy for the next two hours to worry about battles and challenges.

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The band marched and played all aloung the route, but when they came to the grandstands set up in front of the Newark City Hall, they put forth some extra effort with some of the new music and moves they had been working on all week.

Grandstand Performance Video

Also Available on YouTube

Editor's Note: Photojournalist Al-Quadir Marsh traveled with the band from Lincoln Park to City Hall, riding on his unicycle the entire way and only stopping to take occasional photos along the route. Meanwhile, I was stationed by City Hall, waiting for the band to arrive, so I got to see the entire parade from the beginning. You can see the parade from my viewpoint HERE.

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