The annual Longmont Lights Parade was held on Saturday, Dec. 9, on Main Street in Longmont. Niwot High School and Silver Creek High School have both been participating in this parade for many years but in 2014, the two schools started to team up as a super-band for this particular parade. The increase in cross-school band cohesion among St. Vrain Valley schools has been remarkable.
"Since we are a combined band and don't wear our typical marching uniforms," said Wade Hendricks, Director of Bands at Niwot, "it's hard for observers to know who we are." According to Hendricks, the official uniform for this parade was "festive/ugly holiday attire."
After the Lights parade in 2022, Bill Legg, Director of Bands at Silver Creek, had the idea that for 2023, there should be a "banner decorating party" for students from both schools to come together and make a banner designed thematically to represent an "ugly holiday sweater."
"It's just the most 'band-kid' thing to create a 'beautifully ugly sweater'-themed banner," said Legg.
Both band directors agreed that this is the only nighttime parade where temperature can range from 60 degrees and mild, to below freezing and snowing. Regardless, the "energy and spirit displayed by student performers seems higher than other parades," Hendricks said. He gave credit for the high energy to the opportunity to team up with another school, more lights and decorations, and the fact that it was the last official marching band performance for seniors.
Also new this year, alongside the ugly sweater banner, was the inclusion of Silver Creek's Unified Percussion group, which is a performance-based music group for exceptional learners. The class at Silver Creek is assisted by student-mentor directors alongside the music teacher.
"We are grateful to the many community members that have supported this program through their fundraising and volunteer hours," said Legg. "We would also like to thank SCOPA (Silver Creek Organization for the Performing Arts) for their continued financial support and to the Silver Creek Administration for supporting this curriculum."
Legg also recognized Chad Lemons for his work and support starting the Unified Percussion program at Mead High School, which has since grown at many schools in the St. Vrain Valley School District.