(Atlanta, GA) — The Heard County Marching Braves band enjoyed a different experience last weekend after being invited to participate in the 2017 Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade through downtown Atlanta.
The parade is Atlanta’s longest running event and one of the oldest St. Patrick’s parades in the country dating all the way back to 1858.
According to parade promoters, participation at the spectacle is not just an “Irish thing,” with the parade attracting individuals and groups from around the city and the South including clowns, floats, bands, Bagpipe & Drum Corps, children, dancers, drill teams, and more.
The emphasis is on children and families in celebration of all of Atlanta’s diverse backgrounds on a day when “everybody is Irish.”
Only about 25 marching bands participated in the parade and the Marching Braves were originally invited back in September of last year.
First year band director Eric Vogel says the parade was a priceless experience for the 60 HCHS band members that participated.
“Not just the performing, but getting these kids outside of our county and exposing them to things they wouldn’t normally be able to see like other groups and downtown big city life is an awesome thing,” said Vogel after the performance.
“It’s good to open their eyes to other things and opportunities that are out there. I’m thankful to my staff, our parents and supporters for making this possible.”
The Marching Braves performed the song “I’m Shipping up to Boston” during the two mile parade route in front of thousands of people.
One of the most exciting parts of the day for the Brave musicians was the donning of brand new band uniforms for the first time in nine years. The new uniforms made possible through SPLOST funds approved by the Heard County BOE arrived last week just in time for the parade. Band members also unveiled some new instruments and equipment for the first time at the grand event in midtown.
Vogel is extremely thankful for the new uniforms and equipment. He says the uniform design involved months of preparation and planning with the designers and manufacturers at Fruhauf Uniforms in Kansas.
“We are just so very thankful to our Board of Education and to our community for helping provide these much-needed uniforms and equipment for our band. We look forward to showing them off for years to come,” said Vogel. “The support from around the county for our band this year has just been phenomenal.”
Produced by Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade, Inc., the 2017 parade featured representatives from the various Irish groups that are an integral part of Atlanta’s Irish community.
Members of the Hibernian Benevolent Society, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), Clan Na NGael, Fire Emerald Society of Metro Atlanta (FESMA), the Irish Information Center and the Metro Atlanta Police Emerald Society (MAPES) are all active members and participants.
Among the goals of the group are the education of the public about the significant contributions made by the Irish to Atlanta, the South and the United States. Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade is a 501(c)(3) organization.
See below for more photos from the weekend courtesy of Jessica Sink, Joy Thompson, and the Marching Braves.