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Through 50 years, band marches on.

Byline: JACK MORAN The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Over the years they've marched more than 100 miles through rain, ice and the occasional road apple to spread holiday cheer during their hometown's annual Christmas celebration.

The Springfield High School Marching Band hasn't missed a single Springfield Christmas Parade performance since the inaugural event in 1953. It was there again on Saturday. Decked out in blue and white uniforms, the 103-member group made its way through town as part of the 50th annual parade, playing "Jingle Bells" and other holiday tunes on a chilly afternoon.

"We're proud to say that we've never missed a parade here," band director Dana Demant said. "It's a long tradition that I'm sure will continue for another 10, 20 or 50 more years."

Parade organizers presented the band with an honorary plaque Saturday to thank the high school for its commitment to the annual event. The group finished second in the competition for best band behind crosstown rival Thurston High School and its marching band.

Springfield resident Cherie Smith played flute for the SHS band in three parades during the mid-1980s. Bundled up in a thick jacket as she watched the 77 parade entries make their way down Olympic Street, Smith said the band's 2002 version "still sounds pretty good to me."

The parade, which started at the corner of 21st and Olympic streets, wound its way south on Mohawk Boulevard and then west on Main Street. Plenty of onlookers arrived well before the 2 p.m. start time to take in a few other parade-related events. Some had breakfast with Santa at the Willamalane Senior Center, 215 West C St., while others went to the Springfield Museum parking lot, 550 Main St., to hear a tuba ensemble play Christmas carols.

Parade committee member Denise Brittain said an estimated 10,000 people watched this year's event.

Veteran parade watcher Eleanor Cooper said the annual event works as Springfield's official Christmas kickoff. She's lived here since 1947, and said she hasn't missed too many hometown parades through the years.

"It's a good way to start out our Christmas season and it helps bring good cheer to the community," said Cooper, who added that Saturday's cold weather didn't faze her too much.

"It's nice - no rain," she said. "There have been plenty of times where I've held an umbrella or sat in the car to get out of the weather. But not this year."

First-time attendee Saige Keikkala, 5, of Portland got into the holiday mood by making chalk drawings of snowmen and Christmas trees on the sidewalk. Saige, who turns 6 on Christmas Eve, jumped up and waved as a mounted posse from the Lane County sheriff's office rode by on their steeds.

"I like the horses," said Saige, in town to visit relatives. "I really like that white one."

Parade watchers had to stick around until the very end to see Santa Claus.

While the jolly man in the red suit typically makes his way through the Springfield event in a reindeer-powered sleigh, he opted this year to take his parade ride inside the boom atop a Springfield Utility Board work truck.

"Merry Christmas!" he shouted to the crowd from his perch.

Rumor has it he plans a return trip to town in about two weeks.

PARADE WINNERS

Golden Wreath Award (best overall entry): Springfield School District bus drivers.

Bands: Thurston High School Marching Band, 1st place; Springfield High School Marching Band, 2nd place; Springfield Community Concert Band,

3rd place.

Vehicles: Good Times VW Club, 1st place; Mrs. Divine America Pageant, 2nd place; Boy Scouts Troop No. 203, 3rd place.

Riding (horse) units: Double Diamond 4-H Riding Club, 1st place; Herrick's, 2nd place; Pacific Equestrian 4-H Club, 3rd place.

Marching, senior division: Springfield School District bus drivers, 1st place; Springfield Chamber Greeters, 2nd place; Springfield Utility Board, 3rd place.

Marching, junior division: Thurston United Soccer, 1st place.

Floats, commercial division: Leavitt's Freight Service, 1st place; Linn Care, 2nd place; Dark Horse Leather, 3rd place.

Floats, noncommercial, senior division: Thurston High School Cabaret, 1st place; U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, 2nd place; Habitat for Humanity Springfield-Eugene, 3rd place.

Floats, noncommercial, junior division: Cub Scout Pack No. 34, 1st place; Cub Scout Pack No. 339, 2nd place; Cub Scout Pack No. 351, 3rd place.

PARADE WINNERS

Golden Wreath Award (best overall entry): Springfield School District bus drivers.

Bands: Thurston High School Marching Band, 1st place; Springfield High School Marching Band, 2nd place; Springfield Community Concert Band,

3rd place.

Vehicles: Good Times VW Club, 1st place; Mrs. Divine America Pageant, 2nd place; Boy Scouts Troop No. 203, 3rd place.

Riding (horse) units: Double Diamond 4-H Riding Club, 1st place; Herrick's, 2nd place; Pacific Equestrian 4-H Club, 3rd place.

Marching, senior division: Springfield School District bus drivers, 1st place; Springfield Chamber

Greeters, 2nd place; Springfield Utility Board, 3rd place.

Marching, junior division: Thurston United Soccer, 1st place.

Floats, commercial division: Leavitt's Freight Service, 1st place; Linn Care, 2nd place; Dark Horse Leather, 3rd place.

Floats, noncommercial, senior division: Thurston High School Cabaret, 1st place; U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, 2nd place; Habitat for Humanity Springfield-Eugene, 3rd place.

Floats, noncommercial, junior division: Cub Scout Pack No. 34, 1st place; Cub Scout Pack No. 339, 2nd place; Cub Scout Pack No. 351, 3rd place.

CAPTION(S):

The Springfield High School Marching Band plays "Jingle Bells" and other tunes Saturday.
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Title Annotation:Springfield: Both the city's high school bands receive honors as the community event marks a milestone.; Holidays
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 8, 2002
Words:895
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