Jazz Band Performs in Reverse Parade


Kelly Pedrick

The Jazz Band performing during the Las Vegas Days Reverse Parade where the students stayed still as cars drove by to watch them play.

Kamiya Rodrigues, Reporter

Valley’s Jazz Band participated in the Las Vegas Days “Reverse” Parade held on May 15th downtown on 3rd Street.

A “Reverse” parade differs from a regular parade because the performers and acts are all on the sidewalks as the cars drive through the streets. This was a way to combat the COVID-19 restrictions and keep the local tradition alive. Mayor Carolyn Goodman started off the line-up of cars by being in the first car to drive through the sidewalk set-ups, and the line of cars driving through lasted about two hours.

“Considering we only had four rehearsals, the band played at a VERY high level,” Band Director Gary Brown said. “The ensemble and soloist received many compliments from the audience, other band directors, and parents that were there.”

While the former Helldorado Days parade, renamed the Las Vegas Days parade, did not have the same effect as the past, it was still a sight to see.

“The event didn’t have as many participants but still drew a nice, large crowd. This parade almost had a carnival feel to it versus us just marching down the street.”

Getting to perform together really inspired many students to put their all into their performance.

Drum Major saxophonist Victoria Urbina playing during the Las Vegas Days Parade on May 15th. (Kelly Pedrick)

“What I enjoyed was being all together once again, being able to go out and perform and doing what we love,” Jazz Band senior Victoria Urbina said.

Even Brown was ecstatic about being able to perform with his students for everyone at the parade to hear and enjoy what they worked so hard on.

“This was a heartwarming feeling to get to participate in LIVE music again,” Brown said. “Being able to do what I love and hear what I love was exactly what I needed and what they needed too! My heart is full!”

When people drove down the street to hear Valley’s Jazz Band, they heard one of the many songs that the students put their all into.

“The Jazz Band played big band songs such as “In A Mellow Tone” by Duke Ellington, “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway (made famous in the movie “The Blues Brothers”), Latin tunes “So Danco Samba” and “Bossa Bonito”, and even 70’s Rock song “Birdland” that was made famous by the late, great Maynard Furgeson,” said Brown.

Many students had lots of different thoughts running through their heads all at once. Some were nervous about the crowd and some were excited about getting to perform for a number of different people. However some were just trying to keep their cool.

“My head was filled with so many thoughts, running back and forth, it was quite unbearable and hard to keep up with myself,” senior Gema Villeda said. “Making sure I had all my music, counting all the rests before coming in, or even my mind being a bit occupied with saying goodbye to what I looked forward to everyday, which was being able to play with the Jazz Band.”

The Las Vegas Days Parade was a time for people to enjoy themselves and get to hear and watch the performers do what they do best. Yet for some students it was a final memory of their days in Jazz Band.

“It honestly felt so unreal being able to perform again; I was filled with so much enthusiasm…as well as excitement, and words couldn’t describe how I felt,” said Villeda. “I’m more than happy that I had the opportunity to perform with my fellow band members, even if it was my first and last performance of my senior year. When performing in front of a crowd I always like to keep in mind, to give it my all even if my lips are getting worn out, or whatever the cause might be. Also to enjoy every minute of it, because one more time will become one last time. Memories are all we have, engraved into our minds, and those should be the ones we treasure forever.”

All the hard work and effort that went into practicing for the parade paid off and both the performers as well the people who witnessed the parade got to enjoy themselves.

“The performance went better than great overall, despite the weather with such unexpected winds, we dealt with those obstacles by overcoming them, one by one,” Villeda said. “We all played our parts; the solos were fantastic, and we made the best out of that one performance. The effort and hard work, as well as time was well paid off. We got to play and give out a bit of hope to those who had lost it during these hard times. It went by so fast that I didn’t realize that in a couple of hours it’d all come to an end; each last note during the performance felt like a farewell.”

Brown encouraged his students to be the best at what they enjoy doing and in turn fueled them to give their all into their performance.

“I’d also like to give a big thank you to Mr. Brown and Ms. Bishop, for always being there for each and every student,” Villeda said. “And for having faith and hope as well as not giving up on us, even if we’ve given up on ourselves. Mr. Brown likes to say, ‘Good is not good enough when better is possible’”