Before the parade passed on Saturday night, 92-year-old Hugh Cravens was treated to a small surprise preview.
Cravens, the maternal grandfather of West Valley band director Jim Loucks, had never heard his grandson’s band perform. The Air Force retiree hasn’t been able to get around too well since Loucks was named band director 12 years ago.
Instead of hearing the band – be it at the Lilac Festival or a Christmas concert – Cravens could only hear about the band, until now.
Before the 110-member unit loaded the buses and headed to downtown Spokane to perform in the 66th annual Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade, Cravens sat in a lawn chair for 30 minutes in the school’s parking lot, where he listened and watched as the band rehearsed.
“I was going to bring them over to your house,” Loucks told his granddad, who was brought to the school by his caretaker, “but I just couldn’t get them over there. And the neighbors wouldn’t have been very happy.”
Cravens, a retired U.S. postal worker, also was made the first honorary member of the West Valley band.
Loucks, who marched in the parade as a high school French horn player at Shadle Park, said he’d like to make Saturday’s gesture a WV Lilac Festival tradition. He told his students that in the future he would like to plan a trip to a nursing home or a hospital before heading to the parade.