I am not connected to the group that is proposing to bring back the Parade of Champions, but I was connected, after a fashion, to the original group that presented it. This event was begun by members of the YMI and the Green Dragon’s Drum Corps way back in the mid 1950’s. All the participants were volunteers including the chairman who was Larry Marsalli. My father was also a member of the original group. Many of the volunteers were active members of the drum corps and had participated in many parades themselves. To present an event such as this takes a lot of work and time. If you want a Parade of Champions, there must be some champions to honor. In the original parade those were the participants in the event, as only winners of events were invited to participate so one saw the best of the best. While I love a parade like anyone else, I also know it needs a purpose. I do not think it wise to bring it back if you need to “hire” a parade organizer. We never did that and should not now. I believe the city was asked to contribute funds toward presenting this original event, but I believe sponsors were primary. There was also a printed program that named them all.
If a parade is to be held, it should begin next year to give whatever group enough time to prepare. Units who will participate have to be contacted and the event added to their schedule. It has been too long since the last event to even begin to match the success of the original. Time now perhaps to have an original event with volunteers and to honor local champions of which our city has many. If one needs an event to celebrate, how about a competition among all the high school bands in the county?? This could be done at Buck Shaw Stadium or at Townsend Field. You would need professional judges for an event like this, and they are not free. This was part of the original Parade of Champions event except the units of that day were performers for the field competition held the night before the parade. At one time a Fandango parade was also held with local children in costume participating in a Friday night event. I know as I was in this one and it was fun.
If an event is done like this with “last minute” preparation, it cannot be successful. I commend the group that is trying to do this as it is not easy or a slam dunk idea. Connecting the event to an ongoing city event is a good idea, the 4th of July, the Art and Wine Festival, and the list goes on. Whatever is decided, I wish you luck as you will need it.
A former Green Dragon member,
Pat George Alves