When the members of The Pride of Desoto Central Marching Band rolled into the Washington, D.C. area, two things were on their minds; how would they fare in competition against unknown bands from a different part of the country, and how long would it be before they could check into the hotel and sleep on a real bed.
While the latter question was probably more pressing, especially after spending 18 hours on a bus, the answer to the first question would have to wait three days until the members of The Pride could be put to the test in the Preakness Day Parade in downtown Baltimore. Only then would the question be answered of whether the small Division 1A school from Mississippi could hold its own against bands from the densely populated northeast.
When parade day rolled around, it was the last day of a hectic schedule of touring and performing in and around the nation’s capitol. Still, each member moved with purpose as they settled into the familiar routine of unloading, assembling and warming up. The attitudes of champions, focused and determined, began to show itself. Instruments were removed from their cases and carefully pieced together. Uniforms were donned and then checked over by a buddy or staff member for any irregularities. Finally the word came that the parade was about the begin. Each member fell into position. Lines were formed, checking and rechecking spacing and alignment for uniformity and precision.
The Pride would be the third of 16 high school bands judged along a small section of the two mile parade route that led through the heart of downtown Baltimore. Thousands of people lined the parade route. All were very appreciative and most seemed impressed to have a band all the way from Mississippi performing in the city’s parade. Upon hearing the band power out their feature marching piece, “Perfidia”, and witnessing the precision of the marching formation, comments of “Now that’s a marching band,” were commonly heard.
The judges were likewise impressed. At a dinner and awards ceremony held that evening, the results of The Pride’s effort were announced. Although the bands competing in the parade were not given awards according to their finish, each band was scored according to the national standards of parade competition. As such, any band with an overall score of 90 percent or better was awarded a gold medal.
The Pride of Desoto Central Marching Band was awarded an overall score of 90.7, topping all other bands in the competition! In other words, The Pride of Desoto Central Marching Band performed at a level of the top 10% of bands in the country in parade skills. Top scores for the various individual captions were given out as well. Top honors went to Minnie Young as she achieved the highest score for Drum Major, along with number one scores for the percussion and color guard sections.
All in all, it can be said that The Pride did more than hold their own in an unfamiliar competitive environment. They came north and showed the people of Baltimore how it is done!
Final marching scores:
* Marching Skills: 36 out of 40
* Music Performance: 37 out of 40
* Guard: 17.7 out of 20
* Total score: 90.7