Slippery Rock’s Marching Pride is heading abroad for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland in 2019.
The Marching Pride is one of the largest and most visible organizations on campus, with around 200 people involved.
Dr. Jonathan Helmick is currently the director of the marching band and as assistant professor of music at SRU. This is Helmick’s third marching season at Slippery Rock University.
Dr. Helmick said The Marching Pride received a letter from the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, encouraging them to apply to be in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, – which the band ultimately did. After going through various portions of the application process, Slippery Rock was accepted to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2019.
While there is still over a year to go before the Marching Pride makes its international debut, there is a lot of work and a lot of preparation to be done.
“Fundraising is the big one,” Helmick said. “As part of the fundraising process, we are going to try to have someone arrange the music specifically for us. We have to get a parade tune organized for next year and then there will also be a parade routine.”
Every year for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade there is a theme, but it hasn’t yet been chosen for 2019. Once the theme is announced, the Marching Pride will see if there is anything suitable for the students that also fits well with the theme Helmick said.
“In preparation for this – at the end of the season, and during this season we’re gonna integrate a lot more parade fundamentals. With the competition, it’s a continuous marching competition, so if you stop during the parade route, you’re disqualified,” Helmick said. “You have to march at a certain tempo the whole way through the parade and if you go under or over tempo, you’ll be disqualified. We’ll have to march past the grandstand with the judges and we’ll have to continue motion throughout.”
“A lot of detail goes into it, a lot more detail than people think,” Helmick said.
Over the past 2 years, the Marching Pride has grown by about 21%. “We have had some growing pains,” Helmick said.
“We’ve had to do some fundraising, get some uniforms and instruments, – those types of things, and now it looks like we’ll have to do that again because I imagine that this is going to grow even more.”
“We try not to cut as much as possible,” Helmick said. “For the winds, historically, we haven’t cut and I don’t anticipate doing that.”
“The thing I’m probably most nervous about is all the requirements for the competition; the flags have to be a certain size, the poles have to be a certain size, the continuous marching thing. Just finding out all of that and just sort of organizing that so we can get through rehearsals and whatnot relatively quickly, that going to be a bit of a challenge, but I think the students are definitely up to it, without a doubt,” Helmick said. “I’m excited about it.”
Dr. Helmick isn’t the only one excited for the Marching Pride’s trip overseas. Both students and alumni alike are thrilled to see the band go international.
“I think it will be cool,” Freshman Sports Management and trombone player Colton Rearick said. “It will be a new experience. I’ve also never been overseas to do any sort of competition like this, so I’m excited to see how it turns out and how the band does.”
“The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin is like one of the biggest parades in the world, so it will be an experience to get to play for it,” Rearick said.
“I’m so impressed with how far the band has come this year and I can’t wait to see what Dr. Helmick has is store for years to come,” SRU alumni and 4-year Marching Pride Band Member Veronica Miller said. “It’s great to see the band now and how it’s grown; there were almost 100 high schoolers that got to play with the band for Music Major for a Day, and the band is currently made up of almost 100 new freshmen, which I think is awesome, especially when you think about how that means the music and arts are still growing. I’m extremely proud to see the band go to Ireland next year, even though I’m jealous I won’t be able to be there playing with them.”
“I’m thinking we’ll probably do some sort of preview performance before we go, to kind of give everybody in Slippery Rock an idea of what everyone’s been working on,” Helmick said.
Slippery Rock’s Marching Pride has played in big parades before, (like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1988) but this will be the first time the band goes international for a performance.
“When we performed at the Penn-Trafford tournament of the bands’ competition and we announced that we were going to Ireland, the whole audience, like, you just heard them all gasp at the same time, and that was really neat,” Helmick said.
Be sure to look out for The Marching Pride’s trip to Dublin for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2019, and keep up with what’s new with the band on Facebook @SRUMarchingPride.