Band performs at local Halloween festival


Marelena Halikias

The band performed at Brookfield Zoo’s “Boo! at the Zoo” parade on Sunday, Oct. 29.

On Sunday, Oct. 29 at 1 p.m., members of the marching band marched in the parade at Brookfield Zoo for the annual Boo! At the Zoo  celebration, an event that allows families and children to celebrate Halloween alongside the zoo’s animals.

Approximately 125 band students arrived at school at 11 a.m. on Sunday and boarded three buses that transported them to the zoo. Once there, the students took part in the parade that stretched from Discovery Center at the South Gate all the way through the West Mall.

Map courtesy of Brookfield Zoo
The band’s parade route for the Boo! at the Zoo event can be seen shaded in red, starting at the Discovery Center, passing the fountain, and ending at the West Mall.

During the parade, the students performed “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and the school’s fight song,“Red Devils,” three times each.

After the parade, students were free to roam the zoo and partake in the rest of the activities that Boo! At the Zoo had to offer, such as trick-or-treating, crafts, haunted hayrides, corn mazes, a costume contest, pumpkin smashings, giant pumpkin carving demonstrations, and much more.

In addition to the fall festivities that Brookfield Zoo provided, students were also able to dress up in Halloween costumes for the parade. Even the band directors participated in the fun, with Director Matt Kurinsky dressing up in a customized Bears’ jersey, and Director Matt Goeke dressing up as a monkey.

However, while in past years the performance gave students a lighthearted opportunity to practice their marching skills and gain extra credit, this year’s performance served another purpose: preparation for the marching band’s trip to perform at the New York Veteran’s Day Parade.

Marelena Halikias
Along with the festive parade, Brookfield Zoo hosted a costume contest, a corn maze, a pumpkin launcher, and many other fun activities for the whole family.

The music being performed at the Veteran’s Day Parade is the same music that the band performed at Boo! At the Zoo, allowing students to practice their parade routine in a performance setting before heading off to New York on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Students performing at the Veteran’s Day parade have been preparing for it since early October, practicing the selected music and marching skills needed to perform. In addition to looking at music in class, they have also had four two-hour after school rehearsals to help prepare. 

“[The parade] was helpful because it put the kids in a performance setting,” Mr. Goeke said. “People love what we do, so if it doesn’t look perfect, people will still be happy. But, [the parade] still jumpstarts us into being in the mindset of being in a parade block and playing our tunes for New York.”

The extra practice opportunity at Boo! At the Zoo was especially appreciated by students when it came to performing “America the Beautiful,” a song where there are particularly difficult marching maneuvers to execute.

Courtesy of Director Matt Goeke
The marching band lined up in their parade block to play “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and “Red Devils” for the zoo-goers.

“At the beginning and end of ‘America the Beautiful,’ the tempo moves half as quickly as it does during the rest of the piece. During those sections, we take steps half as quickly, and switching between the half-time and regular-time marching was difficult to prepare,” said Nick Lynch, sophomore wind-symphony member.

However, students agreed that what made the performance most enjoyable was being able to let loose a bit and dress up to celebrate Halloween with their fellow bandmates, an opportunity not often provided to them.

“I really enjoyed seeing all the band members in their Halloween costumes… A lot of them were very creative and funny, and it was different than wearing our normal marching uniforms, or band t-shirts, or black suits and dresses,” said Elisabeth Bieber, junior drum major. “I think that the costumes we wore represented our band well as being a lot of fun.”

The next time the band will perform is on Thursday, Nov. 2, at the Fall Jazz Concert.