Students like James Elam, a junior with the Waltrip High School Ram Band, said the group’s trip to perform in the National Independence Day Parade was a bit surreal at times.
“I thought it was really cool we got to see all of the monuments at the capitol,” Elam said. “You always see pictures of them in history books but when you’re finally there, it looks completely different.”
Elam and his fellow bandmates arrived back in town at Frank Black Middle School from their holiday performance late Monday night. Band Director Jesse Espinosa said the students and the parents who had come along for the ride were tired but more than pleased with the performance and the reception they received from attendees at the national parade. Espinosa said the group received a warm welcome with a performance by a jazz band and marching band at the National World War II Memorial the Friday before the big march.
“A lot of people from Texas were there, visiting and celebrating for their Fourth of July,” Espinosa said. “The band marched down Constitution Avenue the next afternoon and they represented Texas very well. We had probably the largest band participating in the parade and we had a lot of crowd participation when we played Deep in the Heart of Texas.”
Beyond the fanfare and celebrations, the band toured many landmarks and monuments around the nation’s capitol and even visited the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater.
Elam said he was somewhat nervous playing in a much different, and much larger crowd, than in front of community members and schoolmates.
“It was a little nerve-racking to see rows of people standing behind one another watching the parade,” Elam said.
Patricia Quiroz, a color guard member, said she and others felt a great sense of pride in being able to represent their school and their state at the national event.
“It just felt really nice knowing that we had finally made it there,” Quiroz said. “Now I’m just thinking about what could happen to us next year.”
David Scarbrough traveled with his son, Rodney Scarbrough, to the parade as well. He emphasized that the successes of the band fell squarely on the dedication of the band members and their positive attitude, hard work and dedication.
“A lot of parents put in work to make this happen, but the kids did a lot of the heavy lifting,” Scarbrough said. “They never moaned about going to a car wash on a Saturday or going door to door to ask neighbors with help in getting them to Washington D.C.”
Scarbrough said he spent much of the Fourth of July taking photos and said the band started at about 6:30 in the morning, preparing for the big event.
“The kids had a lot of fun with it, too, as it’s not their first rodeo,” Scarbrough said. “They knew how to blow off steam once everything was done and they took a lot of responsibility for themselves when it came to behaving and ensuring everyone stayed together and were on time.”
Rodney Scarbrough said he was surprised so many were interested in where the Ram Band hailed from.
“A lot of people asked us where were from and what were doing there,” Rodney Scarbrough said. “I was even more shocked to see crowds of people watching us, cheering and clapping along to Deep in the Heart of Texas. It’s great how dedicated everyone in the band was. No one slacked off and everyone did what they needed to do.”
For more photos from the event, visit The Leader’s website at www.theleadernews.com. Other pictures from the parade and the group’s visit to Washington D.C. can be found on the Waltrip Ram Band Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/