In a flurry of flams, a cacophony of comping, and metered, measured marches, the Sardis Secondary School (SSS) drumline toured Chilliwack on Saturday evening, performing in the 2017 Chilliwack Rotary Christmas Parade for the first time in more than a decade.
The first set of performers spectators saw, the drumline marched proudly behind the police and fire departments, mayor, and two local MLAs, their drumsticks rapping out a variety of festive beats.
“It (was) just awesome,” said Lynn Swanson, project manager for the Rotary Christmas Parade. “We’ve wanted to have more visual entertainment for some time, and this (made) it even better because the entertainment (was) provided by local students from Sardis Secondary School.”
As the grade 10, 11, and 12 students in SSS’s drumline marched through Chilliwack during Saturday’s parade, they were pelted by rain that splashed off their drums in a rhythm as they beat the skins in time, creating a cheery percussion in spite of the drizzling weather.
With this year’s route spanning almost five kilometres, spectators were able to see a great show regardless of where they watched from. In past years, Swanson explained, the Parade’s judges have all waited at Five Corners, which had large groups of people congregating in that area. This year, however, the judges were spread along the entire parade path, ensuring everyone got a great view.
And while the Sardis Secondary School drumline hasn’t been in the parade for many years, it’s still been busy performing all over the province, winning awards and creating an impressive history for itself. In 2010, they performed at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and more recently, they marched in front of almost 30,000 people at a BC Place soccer game. “They also essentially opened for musician Sam Roberts at the Music Heals Gala in October,” adds Kristoffer Werner, director of the music program at SSS.. “The kids felt like rock stars after that.”
“Now it’s great for them to (have been) a part of the parade,” he continued. ”It’s important for any school in the district to create a connection with the community. These kids are part of the community … and kids often get a bad rap, and this is a real positive for our school, the district, community, and most certainly the kids, who are wonderful and (deserved) this opportunity.”
Yet for the members of the drumline, being a member of the band is about more than just the opportunities its snares and cymbals offer: it’s about the energy and building connections by doing something you love.
Marlee Enright is in her third year marching with the drumline, yet she’s been connected to the band for much longer. “My brother had been in it and it was just a really high energy, fun-looking group. So I joined because it allowed me to connect with other people, play the music we all love … and put smiles on other peoples’ faces while we have them on ours.”
“Performing is just such an amazing feeling,” chimed in fellow drumline member, Maddy Dekany. “There’s this gratitude you get after a gig when everyone’s together and we feel like we did it, and we’re like a family who gets to do this all the time. It’s just awesome.”
The parade “is one of the most fun events of the year, heralding the Christmas season to Chilliwack,” adds Swanson. “Regardless of the weather, people (came) out and (enjoyed) the kids who put their hearts and soul into this year’s parade.”
“Drumline members had an amazing time, even in the rain,” said Werner. “They knocked out a solid performance and it was well received by the crowds. Such a great night.”
And the drumline was also well-received by this year’s judges, as they won the award for the best school/non-profit performance in this year’s Christmas Rotary Parade.