Tuesday marked the 65th observance of the Mark Twain Marching Band Festival. Around for many years in some capacity for the traditional event is Debbie Higbee-Roberts of the instrumental music program at Hannibal High School.
“I’ve been here for about 30 of the 65. That’s kind of cool,” she said.
While Higbee-Roberts has seen three decades worth of Band Days, it was the first such event for Danny Lewis, band director at Mark Twain High School.
“I never marched here when I was in high school and never took a band here before. So far I like it. It’s well run,” he said. “The kids love it. They’ve been looking forward to it all week. They like getting out of school, so that’s a plus.”
Mark Twain is one of many regulars in the parade.
“It’s a neat tradition for Hannibal and the area, and just the tri-states. We’ve got a band here from almost to the Iowa border. They come quite a ways to be a part of Band Day and they come every year, and that’s kind of cool,” said Higbee-Roberts. “We’ve been running about the same number for the last several years. We’d love to have more bands any time they want to come. It’s a fun day. Positive comments always come back as to Hannibal’s Band Day. They love to bring their kids, the kids love to come and the parents do too.”
Having an event at home always charges up the Pirate Pride Marching Band.
“I think they think it’s kind of cool to be the host school,” said Higbee-Roberts. “They get pretty pumped up for the field show part because they are the last band of the evening.”
Connor Doyle, one of the HHS band’s drum majors, says its hard to tell if the band enjoys the parade or field show most.
“I think it’s almost cut in half,” said Connor. “Today we’re actually playing our field show parade style, but I think overall they like the field show the most.”
Drum Major Sean Kraus didn’t sense any nervousness.
“A lot of times you’ve already had parades and competitions by now, and we’ve done the show a bunch of times. For the most part people know what they’re expected to do and expected of them,” he said.
If there were any internal “butterflies,” Connor felt they were in the stomachs of Band Day rookies.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think for the freshmen this will actually be their first big event as far as our field show, so I think they have some ‘butterflies’ but they’re excited and ready to go,” he said.
Sean likes the make-up of this year’s HHS band.
“We have a smaller band this year, but it’s a very good group of players. They all want to be here and they’re all strong players,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the Band Day show tonight and the parade today.”
In an event wrapped in tradition, one change was noted Tuesday. Rather than having the bands make a left turn onto North Main, the bands were instead going straight on Broadway.
“We’re going to end at the flags,” said Higbee-Roberts. “North Main is usually the tradition, but with the construction under way that isn’t the best plan so we changed it up for this year to see what happens. We’ll see where we go in further years.”