Sentinel’s marching band in the parade for the first time in years.


Shawn Decareaux

Sentinel band rehearsing their marching show

Video by Jason Kolberg

The University of Montana officially kicked off the football and marching band season on September 24 with the homecoming parade. It has been two years since the parade was last put on. In 2020 the parade was canceled due to COVID-19; the next year, because of bridge construction downtown. As the bridge is still under construction, the parade took a different route this year. Instead of starting closer to Hellgate and going down the bridge toward the university, the parade started at the fairgrounds and marched to the stop light on South Ave. Groups from all over Montana came to participate in the parade. High school marching bands included all Missoula high schools, Valley Christian, and Red Wave (Middle school marching band), Flathead, Frenchtown, University alumni, and of course the University of Montana marching band. There were also groups like Mismo and Roots for dance, cheer, and gymnastics, and many various floats. 

“Groups from all over Montana came to participate in the parade”

Assorted groups at Sentinel put many hours into prepping for the parade. Most of all, the marching band, under director Lewis Nelson, put in countless hours rehearsing. The band started learning music at the end of last school year. The theme for their marching show and parade music was resistance, and included the songs “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, the Ukrainian national anthem, written by Jordan Rudess, and “Uprising” by Muse.

This show was made in support of the war in Ukraine. The show also included four soloists from Jazz Gold, which is the top jazz band at Sentinel. These soloists were seniors, Connor Wheeler (Tenor saxophone) and Mars Johnson (trombone), as well as juniors, Jackson Stiehl (trumpet) and Peyton Woodrum (alto saxophone).

All Sentinel concert bands spent class periods and some weekends practicing the show leading up to the parade and Sentinel’s own homecoming game. In rehearsals, the band worked on memorization of the music, marching patterns and timings, as well as getting down transitions between music. These transitions went in between the marching show previously mentioned, the drumline’s cadence, and Sentinel’s football fight song. Despite the aching feet and backs, many members of the marching band were enthusiastic to be a part of the parade. Additionally, juniors were able to have the full marching band experience for the first time in high school. As it was the first time for a majority of the band, many were considerably eager for the event. 

As the parade hadn’t been put on for two years, the turnout was very large. Sentinel performed well under the pressure. This is true especially when considering that only some of the seniors had been in the parade before, and not since their freshman year. Even though it was most students’ first time participating, the parade turned out to be a success. Based on the crowd, the tradition was missed and warmly welcomed back. It will surely be eagerly awaited until next year.  The parade will be anticipated by both members within the parade, and families and students alike watching the musicians, artists, and other performers. Overall, the parade seemed to be a success for Sentinel’s marching band various groups alike.