For the members of the Flandreau Alumni Band, performances lately have been every 10 years.
That means that excitement is building for the band’s appearance in the Sesquicentennial and All-School Reunion parade. The 30 members who have signed up to play last marched together in 2009 for that year’s all-school reunion.
It’s a simpler schedule than band members kept when they started marching together 43 years ago, hitting area small-town parades during the summer and becoming a crowd-pleaser. But it’s a tradition that lives on.
“We have people in our band that are over 80,” said Jackie Skroch, the majorette. “You can do this your whole life.”
Skroch, 65, and her husband, Mike – a snare drummer, started organizing the group for the Nation’s Bicentennial in 1976. At times, numbers have been in the 40s. The current band is smaller but includes some adult children of the original members with ages in the band ranging from 30 to 80.
The band will march this year – performing and doing routines for three songs – but will do a shortened route so that all members can participate. Their song list includes “King Size,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” and “National Emblem.”
“We always throw the school song in there, too,” Skroch said. While many members are from Flandreau, some will fly in for this year’s parade.
The band will practice twice before the July 5 parade, although several of the members are in other groups, including the City Band, and play regularly to keep their skills fresh. Rehearsals are 6:30 p.m. June 28 and July 3 at the Flandreau High School band room. Those who participate have to have their own instruments but can get music from Skroch if needed. Many members have the songs memorized after all these years.
Skroch said people stick with the band because it’s fun and because of the satisfaction they get from playing together, even if they all weren’t in band at the same time.
“I love music, and I love being able to play it,” she said.
In 1999, the group’s high school director Ron Whalen came back to lead the band, which has had some impressive appearances. The group played at two inaugural balls for Gov. William Janklow and gave a concert at Mount Rushmore on July 8, 1989, as part of the Centennial City for a Day.
“We’ve just done a lot of fun things over the years,” Skroch said. “I’m just so glad this has been a part of my life, a big part.”