Band stops long-standing tradition


Olivia Lafferty

To follow tradition, the clarinet section of the Marching Atoms coordinate heir costumes at the Wakefield Chapel parade.

With the redistricting of the Chapel neighborhood two years ago, there was the loss of a tradition that had been sponsored by the Chapel Square Civic Association for over 40 years.

Hundreds of kids in costumes hanging out, eating food and waiting to see the AHS band perform. A band made up of many of their role models, the kids that they have watched grow up around them.

It starts with the build-up on street corners, the handing out of balloons for the kids, waiting for the arrival of the high school band. Each year the band arrives after the Annandale parade in downtown Annandale so there is always a wait for them to arrive.The parade is then led by the band for a few blocks, playing their music, and then the band plays a concert at the playground as the apex of the parade. This is what the Chapel Square Halloween Parade looks like each year.

The band will only perform in this parade for the next two years, after that it will no longer be a part of the long standing tradition. These next two years coincide with the grandfathering of Wakefield Chapel students into AHS that took place two years ago. After these next two years, those students will no longer be a part of the school, and so the Chapel Square parade will have no significance to the members of the AHS band.

The reason that the band is not going to be performing in the parade two years from now is the redistricting that happened throughout the county two years ago.

Wakefield Chapel residents will greatly miss the parade due to the large impact that it has on the community.

“The impact of the parade was tremendous,” AHS parent Courtney Collins said. “It was a fun filled occasion for all neighbors to participate in or just spectate. Our mailman, Emmerson, even comes to it each year, dressed as a postal service employee.”

“A lot of the kids like to dress up and follow the band to where we do our performance, they get to play and eat snacks and watch us perform,” senior Sarah Prince said. Prince is a resident of the neighborhood surrounding Chapel Square.

Not only is the parade a very important part of Chapel Square tradition, it is also a large part of AHS tradition as well.

“We are all about community outreach. That is why we do the parade, to inspire people with music,” Band Director Adam Hilkert said. “I remember last year when I was planning out the events that we were going to do throughout the year, all of my students told me that I wasn’t allowed to plan anything for that parade day.”

Redistricting effects

After the redistricting two years ago, the Wakefield Chapel neighborhood will no longer attend schools in the AHS pyramid. They will go to Woodson High School instead. This has created a lot of problems throughout that neighborhood.

“Our community is losing a lot of good role models in the band students,” Collins said.

Students who live in the Chapel neighborhood also feel strongly about the redistricting and the loss of this annual performance.

“Residents have been complaining about the loss of the Annandale band from the parade,” senior James Barker said. “It’s their fault, they voted on the decision [to remove chapel from AHS].”

The neighborhood is losing a valuable tradition that has been around for over 40 years.

“Our younger kids grew up with this tradition,” Collins said. “They grew up with ideas of one day becoming the band member that got to dress in costume and march with piccolo or tuba down their neighborhood streets. Now that we are re-districted, we have lost this particular tradition, and our children have lost this particular role model.”

Not only has the redistricting affected the neighborhood, it has also affected AHS in many ways.

“A lot of our band students, at one point almost half, came from that Wakefield Chapel neighborhood,” Hilkert said. “And now we don’t have that demographic in the AHS band.” The band also loses a substantial amount of fundraising from the loss of that neighborhood.

“At the parade the band gets a lot of donations,” Collins said.

“It also affects funding,” Hilkert said. “The bulk of our funding, particularly tag day, comes from that area.”

This year, the band did not see as much revenue from this neighborhood on Tag Day, seeing as they split the neighborhood with the Woodson band.

Looking to the future

AHS has been struggling with the loss of students after the redistricting, but in recent months, the school has seen some increase in participation.

“Varsity and JV Football numbers have increased, as well as the Field Hockey team,” principal Vincent Randazzo said. “What we have been doing, is really recruiting kids, peeking their interests, finding out what their passions are, finding out what they want to do in extra-curriculars.”

While AHS has been looking for ways to expand after losing the Chapel neighborhood, the band has also been looking for new ways to get into the community.

“We’re looking for another place out in the community to perform, such as a nursing home,” Hilkert said.

The Chapel Square Civic Association hopes to continue the tradition for years to come.