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Ballard High School Marching Band arrives mid-event, awarded Best Overall Band in Leavenworth Festival

Story and photo by Roxanne Kenison

After a series of unexpected obstacles last Saturday on their way to the Leavenworth Autumn Leaf Festival, the Ballard High School Marching band literally stepped off the bus and into the parade to claim recognition as the best of 19 bands in the parade – and to also win first place in their division.

That they managed to perform at all—and so well—is a testament to the group’s discipline, teamwork, and pluck. Scheduled to leave Seattle by 8:30 a.m. for the Noon parade in Leavenworth, the 150-plus member band got a late start when a mixup resulted in their buses being delayed by an hour. An early fall snowstorm in the mountain pass slowed traffic, and the parade was already underway by the time the band arrived in Leavenworth.

To streamline proceedings, band members had put on their uniforms in-transit, and even availed themselves of the buses’ lavatories, anticipating no chance for a restroom break after their nearly 3-hour journey.

Director of Bands Michael James and parent chaperones directed the buses to parking as close as possible to the parade assembly area, and band members collected their instruments and fell immediately into formation. They literally marched away from the buses and into the parade with no stopping or pausing, to applause and cheers of onlookers.

“If we don’t win anything, that’s fine,” declared Mr. James after the band completed the parade route. “If we do win something, that’s fine too. I’m just glad we got here.” On being awarded first place, Mr. James proudly held up the trophy, and band members whooped, hollered, and squealed with excitement.

The Autumn Leaf Festival parade is the first performance of the year for the marching band, following after-school rehearsals and a weekend intensive Band Camp at the beginning of the school year.