NEW ORLEANS – The 313th Army Band marched through the historical Rex parade route, entertaining Mardi Gras attendees with medleys from the Army Song to New Orleans style brass band classics Mar. 1.
Mardi Gras, which is French for "Fat Tuesday," is celebrated each year in many parts of the world through music, dancing, and parades. This year marked the 150th year of the Rex parade, making it the longest-running parade in New Orleans history. Soldiers of the 313th Army Band also shared significant experiences in this year's parade festivities.
Sgt. Rashada Smith, a clarinet player from Montgomery, Alabama, stated, "I've been a part of the 313th Army Band for 17 years. This is the 12th time I've marched in the Rex parade, but it's always new and exciting."
The 313th Army Band has years of musical talents and performance experiences throughout its formation. While Soldiers shared excitement in performing together again in a parade, especially as part of the highlight of New Orleans Mardi Gras, Spc. Eyona Matthews, a piccolo player from Mesa, Arizona, shared a different level of excitement.
"I'm really excited about participating in a parade as I've never played in a parade. The ability to perform in front of an audience, especially as a U.S. Army Soldier is really special to me," said Matthews.
Leading the band's parade formation were Sgt. 1st Class Cory Wills, first sergeant of the 313th Army Band, and Command Sgt. Maj. Renee Smith, command sergeant major of the 81st Mission Command Support Group.
As the band marched their way through the historical streets of Uptown New Orleans, cheers erupted to the familiar tunes of the Army Song, bringing joy and a sense of patriotic pride to parade attendees of all ages. Catching Smith's attention was an enthused young child who shared with Smith how the Army band was his favorite and how much he loved them.
"Aside from recruiting purposes, parade performances give our Soldiers a chance to showcase their professionalism and skills, allowing the public to see the U.S. Army from a different perspective," said Smith.