AMBLER >> Members of the Wissahickon High School Marching Band were decked out in Christmas lights Dec. 1, practicing their performance in the high school stadium in anticipation of marching in the QVC West Chester Christmas Parade the next night.
The 60-member band under the direction of Sean Kennedy was one of 18 high school bands, plus the West Chester University band, chosen to march in the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce 37th Annual Christmas Parade.
Termed by USA Today as “one of the top ten places to experience the arrival of Santa Claus during the holiday season,” the parade will be televised on Christmas Day.
The Wissahickon band was invited to apply in August, Kennedy said in an email Dec. 1, so he sent in a performance history of the band, repertoire choices and an official application. A panel of experts then narrowed down the field, he said.
“The same folks that organize the renowned Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade also run this event, so getting chosen was a big honor for us,” Kennedy said.
In addition to being chosen to march in the parade, the bands competed for more than $5,000 in prize money, with the Grand Champion awarded $1,200. Three professional judges evaluated the bands on music execution, music general effect, marching style and presentation and use of color, and winners were announced immediately following the parade.
Kennedy said in an email Dec. 5 that the Wissahickon High School band came in sixth out of 12 bands that competed.
Todd Marcocci, owner of Under The Sun Productions, has been the producer for the annual Christmas parade for years, said Jeff Zajac, marketing and communications manager for the West Chester Greater Chamber of Commerce.
Marcocci runs the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Cherry Blossom parade in Washington, D.C., and ran the Miss American Parade this year, he said.
“We are very fortunate to have him work with us,” Zajac said.
The parade day schedule starts off with the opening of a Holiday Village at 5 p.m., followed by a Jingle Elf Run, tree lighting and then the parade beginning at 7:15 p.m., he said. Floats, classic cars, cold air balloons, dance schools and other entertainment are also part of the parade, which runs for about 90 minutes, he said.
“About 5,000 participate in the parade and upwards of 40,000 are expected to attend,” Zajac said Dec. 1.
The Wissahickon Band members “had creative freedom when choosing lighting options — mostly LED light packs with batteries — so there are some other creative illumination options happening throughout the group,” Kennedy said.
Songs on the playlist for the parade include: The Wissahickon Alma Mater, the “The Hey Song,” “Christmas Promenade,” and “The American Red Cross March,” he said.
In addition to Wissahickon High School, participating marching bands include: Downingtown High School, Pennsbury High School, Henderson High School, Rustin High School, Daniel Boone High School, A.I. Dupont High School, Jackson Liberty High School, Octorara High School, Springfield (Delco) High School, Cardinal O’Hara High School, Easton Area High School, Central Bucks – South High School, West Chester East High School, Methacton High School, Bishop Shanahan Marching Band and Cheerleaders, Marple Newtown High School, Pottsgrove High School, and West Chester University.