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Marching bands compete during Junior Lilac Parade

The sun shone on clarinets and trombones as drum majors led the way for the annual Spokane Junior Lilac Parade on Saturday.

Dressed as zombies, fish and beach-goers, elementary and middle-school students bused downtown from nearly 40 schools throughout the region. They soaked up the attention as parade-goers lined the route waiting for their children, alma mater or favorite tune to come by.

“Being in a parade is a big deal for kids – they haven’t stopped talking about it,” Wendy Hill said as her sixth-grade twin boys, Zac and Brennan Hill, marched by with Deer Park Middle School to the tune of “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang.

Their band’s signature touch: bell bottoms and afros. Hill helped with outfits – selecting a disco-ball-type shiny shirt for Brennan, she said. It was a woman’s shirt, but he didn’t care, he said.

“I’m a tough enough guy to handle it,” he told his mom.

Only one band can win the Grand Sweepstakes award and earn a slot in the Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade. Each group soaked up their time in front of the judges even though the heat made for a sweltering march.

Heat tends to flatten the notes, said Brendan Cesaratto, band director for Colville Junior High. But, “we should all be in the same boat,” he added.

Cesaratto wrangled his students for a group photo for camera-toting parents on the Howard Street Bridge, with the Spokane River as a backdrop. One trumpeter stretched his instrument to the sky in a victory stance.

Even after the parade ended, drummers continued to tap beats through Riverfront Park.

Musicians from Sacajawea Middle School rushed around like a school of fish asking: “How did we do?”

The South Hill school’s band won the Grand Sweepstakes and Best Adherence to Theme, which was “Swinging into Summer.”

The weather for Saturday’s parade was perfect, unlike past years when it rained, said Sarrenity Dickson, eighth-grade drum major for Cheney and Westwood middle schools. Especially as the group passed Riverfront Park and played the James Bond movie theme

The cadence however, was difficult, she said. That’s when the drums lead into the big band tune.

As each band stepped into view, proud parents armed with cameras would jump to attention and point to their children.

Beth Bush, a former clarinetist at now-closed Libby Middle School, spotted her daughter’s North Pines Middle School marching band and jumped out of her chair for a better view of her clarinetist daughter Anika Bush.

“I don’t think it’s a competition,” Bush said. “You’re getting up there and playing together.”



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