TJ Band members showcase their talent at Denver’s Famed Parade of Lights.
As the holidays approach, joy is in the air, and many celebratory events are occurring throughout Denver, offering joy and cheer to Denver citizens. For Denver Citywide Marching Band (DCMB), the holidays have also provided an opportunity for its members to display their talents, among which were TJ’s seniors Cassidy Cobb, Jabril Jeylani, Khem Shem Toure’, and freshman Julia Moir. TJ’s talented Spartans showed off their skills on December 4th and 5th in Downtown Denver, and greatly contributed to the merry atmosphere.
DCMB has participated in Denver’s Annual Parade of Lights for several years now, which is an incredibly feat, considering the difficulty in being accepted. Organizations need to apply months in advance, and decisions regarding the performance must have already been reached at that time. “The application asks for what you are going to wear, what the students are going to wear, what music you want to play, how many students are involved, who your chaperons are, and all kinds of questions like that,” explained DCMB Director Jason U’Ren. U’Ren added that the critical question asked is, “‘How are [we] incorporating lights into [our] group?” [We] also have to send in a picture of the group in uniform, with lights.” After the rigorous application process, the application is sifted through by the Parade Committee. Acceptance into the Parade is never guaranteed, but with its talented members, DCMB has been accepted several times, and will hopefully continue to play in the future. “As long as I am the director of the DCMB, I will continue to apply for the Parade of Lights every year,” asserted U’Ren, adding that Parade also helps to recruit many new members.
On Friday, December 4th, the Parade officially began at 8:00pm; on Saturday, December 5th, it began at 6:00pm. However, DCMB members had to begin preparations hours earlier. The members met at North High School a few hours before the Parade began, on both night; upon getting dressed for the festivities, which included vibrant jackets with Christmas lights, the members headed downtown.
Once ready, DCMB was 18th in the Parade. “It was a good placement for us,” explained U’Ren. “It also got us home earlier in the evening since we were so early in the parade.” The order of the band members was Banner Carriers first, followed by Color Guard, the Woodwinds, Brass, and completed by the Drumline. While Cobb and Jeylani played in the Woodwinds section, Moir and Toure’ were a part of the Drumline. “It was great to be in the front when the cameras filmed,” described Cobb. “I ended up being front and center on 9 News.”
There were dozens of other organizations participating in the Parade, several of which were other college and high school marching bands. However, none of the others compared to the passion behind DCMB’s performance. “It was really cool seeing some of my friends up there,” described TJ senior Alejandro Botello, “and I was so proud of them. I tried to distract them up a little bit, but I was super proud when they didn’t even flinch. We couldn’t have better musicians here.” Similarly, U’Ren had only positive things to say about the performance. “DCMB students represented Denver Public Schools very well,” he explained, adding that with recent budget cuts to educational program, it is often necessary to prove the skill of the band. At the Parade, this was exceptionally easy. “The only thing I think could have gone better would have been if all of the students could have been there both nights,” U’Ren said.
The Parade of Lights is a significant opportunity not only for the reputation of DCMB, but also for the individuals participating. “Performing for thousands of people gives the students a sense of confidence and self worth that very few things can,” U’Ren described. This confidence is significant to developing the leadership skills necessary to thrive in society, along with each student’s school and band environment; ultimately, this experience provides a major benefit to DCMB members, and has a lifelong effect on their actions and thoughts. “It gave me something to look forward to, and I had a huge part in it,” explained Cobb. “Being in front of 200,000 people was terrifying, but in the end, I gained more confidence in performing in front of that many people. Now, I just can’t wait for more events like this, especially for being in marching band in college.”