Low interest threatens Cary Band Day’s parade

akenney@newsobserver.comAugust 5, 2013 

Athens Drive High School flute player Leah Jamison performs with her fellow marching band members in last year's Cary Band Day parade.


— Contrary to recent rumors, marching bands once again will parade the streets during this fall’s Cary Band Day, – but declining attendance could soon put a temporary end to part of the musical celebration.

Overall, Cary Band Day is as popular as ever, drawing dozens of bands across state lines for a huge on-field competition. Yet fewer and fewer bands and crowds have come for the traditional opening parade, which is entering its 55th year.

Terry “Doc” Thorne, a parade organizer for several years, remembers when the bands walked past crowds three and four people deep along Walnut Street, en route to the main event at Cary High School.

The tradition began when bands marched off the old Cary High School campus and around the downtown streets.

Now it’s too hard to convince enough bands to participate in the parade, Thorne said. Often, out-of-town bands don’t have enough time for both the parade and the all-day competition that follows.

Meanwhile, the audience is down significantly, to about 1,000 people, Thorne said.

“Sometimes it’s better to just let a fondly remembered tradition slip into history rather than allow it to exacerbate the situation,” he wrote recently in an email.

That’s why he and Bob Murray, president of the Cary High School Band Boosters, met early this year to discuss an end to the tradition.

The possibility of a full cancellation of the march also began to circulate, and Mayor Harold Weinbrecht started to ask about ways to revive the parade.

Recently, the mayor distributed an email by Thorne that summarized the plan to discontinue the parade, and possibly hold it only every five years.

But by that time the tides had turned. The band’s boosters and leadership had decided to have at least one more parade for Cary Band Day.

“Is it worth the time and energy to put on the event for the town, and for the community?” Murray asked. “We struggle with it, but at the end of the day, we decided it’s well worth our investment of time, energy and commitment to make it happen.”

The parade still will face close scrutiny after this fall’s edition of Cary Band Day. For now, though, the band plays on.

Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary

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