Montclair African Heritage Parade
As told by Al-Quadir Marsh to Jim Gerrish

Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh

The East Orange Unified Marching Band participated in Montclair's African Heritage parade on Saturday, 6/5/10. For the band, the parade began where it always does, back at Cicely Tyson School, putting on uniforms, getting instruments, tuning instruments and getting in some last minute practice before boarding the buses.


First, the bigger instruments like the bass drums and sousaphones get loaded into the bus through the back door.

Then the students board the buses, usually by sections.

The students chatter with excitement about every subject imaginable. You would think they never get to talk with one another!

Once the buses arrive at Nishuane Park in Montclair, the students disembark. The buses got separated from one another, so now the two halves of the band have to meet up and form a unified marching band. It's a good thing they have cell phones so they can find out where the missing band members are.

Together once again, the band immediately begins to march, because the parade has already started by the time they get into position.

Bringing up the rear of the band are members of the Band Parent Association and often their children and siblings of band members. Everyone gets to participate and help out.

Some of the children have formed their own cheerleading squad. They have come up with their own "uniforms" and perform cartwheels in the street, under the watchful eyes of the Band Parents.

Ms Saez, the Band Parent Association President also dispenses bottles of cold water to anyone who needs one... including some splashes against the ninety degree heat of the day.

While my job is to report on The East Orange Unified Marching Band, I also like to keep track of others in the parade, like this group of "Shriners," who do a lot of good work in the community. This group is from the Golconda Temple 24, from Newark.

Another helpful community group is the Montclair Child Development Center. Besides waving from their float, they were handing out books to children all along the way.

Not all of the marchers are from New Jersey. The New Baltimore Twilighters Crispus-Attack Marching Band came all the way from Baltimore, Maryland just to represent in this parade. They even have their own video from a parade on June 8, 2008.

The Video is also available on YouTube HERE

The parade even had a few horses. Every block or so, they would back away from one another and then come together at a gallop, which the crowd found exciting to watch.

Orange High School also had their Marching Tornadoes Band in this parade.

Photo by Jim Gerrish

Editor's Note: Al-Quadir Marsh, our photographer and photojournalist, was still riding his Rip-Stik near the East Orange Unified Marching Band, some distance further in the parade, so I captured this shot of the Orange Tornadoes playing for the Montclair Grandstand, just to make his story complete. I also took the video that follows.

The video is also available on YouTube HERE

The East Orange Unified Marching Band finally comes to the last corner before the Grandstand set up on Woodland Avenue outside of Glenfield Park. The band knows that once they go around that corner, all eyes will be on them, so they must look their best.

Photo by Jim Gerrish

Editor's Note: I couldn't resist inserting this photo of our roving Photographer, Al-Quadir Marsh, who has taken all the other photos for this story. Instead of riding his unicycle in the parade today, he decided to ride his Rip-stik because of all the hills on the parade route. As the East Orange Band rounds the corner on their way up to the final performance in front of the Grandstand, I managed to catch Al-Quadir racing to get ahead of them to take the final photos for his story.

The Band Parents who travel with the band and assist them during parades and other performing events, usually stay in the background. Band Parent member, Mr. Fred Davis, walked the entire distance beside the parade, dragging a big cooler filled with cold water bottles for the band members who might need them. It was over 90 degrees in the hot sun that day, so you know the water was appreciated by everyone. Other Band Parents carried the band's two banners, one in front and one in the rear of the band.

There's nothing left for me to say except that this is the last parade of the "season." The band will spend the summer rebuilding and filling in the gaps left by its departing seniors, taking on new members, learning new music and getting ready for the 2010 Fall Football "Season."

The Video is also available on YouTube HERE


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