Johnstown-Monroe's Big Red Band will join other central Ohio high school bands in a showcase at the Circleville Pumpkin Show parade that steps off at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17.
The parade of bands is the most popular of the pumpkin show's seven parades, said Todd N. Stevens, who has been chairman of the marching band committee since 1989.
"It's by invitation only, and we typically have between 18 and 22 bands participating, depending on the number of other nonmusical entries in the parade," he said. "We need the other entries to provide a buffer between the bands so that we do not have one band playing over another. The most we have ever had on a Thursday evening is 25 bands."
Twenty bands scheduled to march in the evening parade Oct. 17 represent the following high schools: Adena, Amanda, Berne Union, Circleville, Columbus West, Dynamic Mention Drum Corps, Hamilton, Johnstown-Monroe, Logan Elm, Logan, Marion-Franklin, Ohio State School for the Blind, Olentangy Orange, Paint Valley, Teays Valley, Unioto, Watkins Memorial, Westfall and Zane Trace. The Circleville Pumpkin Show Band also will be featured.
Johnstown's Big Red Band has been marching in the annual parade for at least 10 years, said Dennis Moore, assistant marching band director.
"It's great exposure because there's usually around 20 bands there and a ton of people," he said. "It's absolutely one of the favorite trips of the kids every year. They love going there. There are so many people, and the parade route is long. It's one of their favorite shows. We'll play some of our songs we play during the year."
Big Red Band director Joe Carver said the parade is a great opportunity to play for thousands of people.
"And it is a night parade, which adds to the excitement," he said.
Stevens said Watkins Memorial and Marion-Franklin high schools will perform in both the afternoon parade, beginning at 3:30 p.m., and the evening parade Oct. 17.
The length of the parade of bands is typically an hour from the beginning of the parade until the first unit finishes, Stevens said. The weather and size of the crowd could affect the length, but it will be held rain or shine.
Four band concerts will be prior to the parade of bands, including Logan Elm and Westfall at the Franklin Street platform and Marion-Franklin and Olentangy Orange at the West Pinckney Street stage.
Stevens said the pumpkin show, often described as the "greatest free show on earth," has two parades Wednesday through Friday and one on Saturday. The final parade Oct. 19, featuring Ohio festival and events association queens, will begin at 8 p.m.
"Another noteworthy item is Felicity Franklin High School first performed in 1968, and this will be their 45th consecutive performance," he said. "They will be performing this year in the Friday afternoon and evening parades."
Pumpkin show volunteer Nanisa Osborn said the Thursday night parade of bands has been in place since the1960s.
"The first general parade for the pumpkin show took place in 1905," she said. "The Ohio State University marching band has come twice in the last eight years. Last year, Ohio University joined us. College bands use it as a recruiting tool for high schools."
For more information about the Circleville Pumpkin Show, including a schedule, go online to pumpkinshow.com.