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Bernie band tours local paradesPosted Tuesday, September 20, 2011, at 10:47 AM
The Bernie marching band made its fourth appearance in the Bell City Community Days parade this year, much to the enjoyment of the residents.
This year I've tried to attend as many of the fall festivals as I can. Each community celebrates the harvest season with a homespun open-air party that warms the heart and draws former and current residents together to rekindle old acquaintances and enjoy their families.
Over the years, I've traveled up to Madison County for the Marquand Pioneer Days, the smallest of the local celebrations, but this year I stayed closer to home: Puxico Homecoming, Advance Labor Days, and Bell City Community Days.
The bands are, by far, my favorite part of the parade, even though the smaller communities are doing good to have only one--their own high school band.
That's why it's so heart-warming for me to see the unexpected appearance of a band from another town. I cover two parades for the North Stoddard Countian--Advance and Bell City. Things are usually pretty predictable: The local high school band marches behind the parade marshall, the floats pass by with folks throwing candy, kids scramble in the street, dangerously close to the wheels of monster tractors and fire trucks, beauty pageant winners wave at the crowd, politicians hand out suckers...and the horse brigade winds up at the end of the parade, dropping their smelly little "gifts" along the parade route.
However, in both the Advance and Bell City parades, we were in for a surprise! Here came a blue and white band! Bernie band director Judy Miller had gone to the trouble to load up her band and bring them to share our festivities!
I didn't catch Judy until she passed by me at Bell City. Then, I pulled her aside for a few minutes, and she explained.
"We just love these parades!" she said. "They're so much fun, and everyone is so grateful and complimentary! One lady at Advance almost cried when she came up to us and thanked us for being in their parade!"
I know what she's saying. Several years ago, our Advance band director took the 100-member band to the tiny town of Zalma (about 15 miles west) to march in their centennial parade. Believe it or not, most of the streets were dirt! I will never forget the sight of that band marching through the dusty streets, past old stone-walled stores and houses. The sound of the drums reverberated through the hills and practically SHOOK the ground! The people of Zalma speak of it to this day!
So what if I had to have my daughter's twirler uniform and my son's band uniform cleaned before the end of the marching season? It was worth it to see how happy that one occasion made our neighbors in Bollinger County!
I know that the students don't always look forward to the marching season; all three of my children grumbled, as they did their stint in the ranks of the band.
However, I know, too, the joy that a band can bring to those of us who stand and watch them pass by! Whether it's the U.S. Navy Band playing John Phillip Sousa--or a tiny junior high school band, struggling with "Bumpy Road," I love a parade--and the band is the best part!
See ya on Stoddard Street this afternoon!!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.