Montclair African Heritage
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
Then the students board the buses, usually by
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
Together once again, the band immediately begins
to march, because the parade has already started by the time they
get into position.
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
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.
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,
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 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."