Cary Band Day parade canceled this year

akenney@newsobserver.comAugust 26, 2013 

Chloe McCann performs with the Cary High School color guard in last year's Cary Band Day parade. There won't be a parade this year.

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— The parade segment of this year’s Cary Band Day has been canceled due to safety concerns, according to the event’s coordinators.

Organizers worry that construction work on and alongside Walnut Street will disrupt the parade, which runs for about 1.3 miles from downtown Cary to Cary High School.

Town and state officials expect the work will be finished ahead of the parade, but parade organizers made the cancellation call because they hadn’t heard sure-enough confirmation of the construction schedule.

Cary Band Day’s marching band competition, scheduled for Nov. 2, will continue as usual. But the loss of this year’s parade will disrupt a long-held tradition. The parade has kicked off Cary Band Day since 1958, sending a dozen or so marching bands through central Cary each year, except for a recent rain-out.

Just this month, the Cary High School Band Boosters said that the parade would happen, ending months of speculation. Last week, the organizers reversed course.

In an email on Aug. 22, the band’s director, the longtime organizer of Cary Band Day and the booster club president announced the cancellation of this year’s parade. They were concerned that ongoing roadwork on Walnut Street, the parade’s main leg, would endanger marchers and watchers.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is paving part of the road while the town of Cary is replacing a utility line and sidewalks. The town work is expected to wrap up at the end of September, while the paving could finish this week.

Still, parade organizers said they hadn’t received confident assurances from town staff that the work would be done in time, and the time had come to make a decision.

“It’s not worth taking a chance on a participant or a spectator tripping or falling,” said Sandi Williams, who has chaired Cary Band Day for 25 years. She said the cancellation wasn’t connected to previous proposals to nix the parade.

Terry “Doc” Thorne, a parade organizer, and Bob Murray, the president of the boosters, had talked early this year about ending the tradition, citing declining interest among bands and spectators. Thorne circulated a plan to come back every five years with a reinvigorated parade.

But that won’t be the case, according to Williams. The boosters want the parade back next year and annually thereafter, she said.

“We want to come back with an exciting parade for the town of Cary, and to bring the parade back as part of the downtown restoration,” she said.

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

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