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Unique twist to Labor Day Parade

Updated: Saturday, August 30 2014, 12:04 AM EDT

Rochester, N.Y. - Divided by drum beats, band uniforms and labor unions, thousands marched through Rochester’s East End for a Friday evening.

It’s not easy to put on a parade in the midst of rush hour but the city broke tradition and kicked off this year’s Labor Day celebration a little early. Typically the parade is held on Monday but because of the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) World Championships this weekend; Rochester rearranged its schedule and shifted the parade route.

“It breaks tradition but I think we are going to have a great turnout,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said and the size of the crowd proved her right.

“I could take a parade any day, anytime of day,” Shirley Hand said as the drum and bugle corps started to warm up. The 85-year-old grabbed a front row seat on the sidewalk along East Avenue. Hand said, “Oh, last year there was hardly anybody here, but this year I couldn’t even find a place to park.”

Thousands of people from all over the world came into Rochester to compete in the drum and bugle corps World Championships. “It’s all nerds; it’s all professional nerds gathering in Rochester, NY,” Dan English said, “it’s a great time of year.”

A member of Rochester’s Empire Statesmen, English said it takes a lot of skill and precision to be part of one of the DCA competition corps. “It takes a long time to grow that bond and that kind of gel to be able to play everything together as meticulously as you have to.” English said, “It’s hard, lots of people say this is like the NFL of our activity.”

In comparison to the corps competing in the DCA finals, English said the Statesmen are like a little league team but this it’s like the Super Bowl is in town and they’ve got front row seats. English said, “It’s a marching band on steroids pretty much. Hundreds of people from all over the country gather here in Rochester for DCA finals—pretty much the best of the best in the world.”

Thousands of the top performers marched in the parade that brought out big crowds. Bradley Coudriet with the Dansville White Sabers said, “This parade is an opportunity for the drum corps to give back to the city that has hosted us for so many years.”

Defending Class-A World Champions, the White Sabers are excited to compete in their home state but the feeling is bittersweet. The Drum Corps Associates (DCA) World Championships returned to Rochester for its 50th anniversary but the competition will relocate again next year.

Still, the White Sabers are focused on winning; the group has been practicing 18-hours every weekend all summer.

Executive Direction of the Rochester and Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation-CIO, Erin Young said, “Labor Day is a time to not only celebrate the victories but to also honor those who literally sacrificed their lives for you know, 40 hour workweeks and weekends and holidays off and paid sick leave.”

For the parade and then the competition, it was all about celebrating hard work. Young said, “The bands really draw everyone together and literally get them marching in step with one another which is what labor stands for, unity.”

Unique twist to Labor Day Parade


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