SAVANNAH, Ga. -- After waiting patiently for at least seven hours until it was time for them to perform, the 208th Army Reserve Band from Concord, N.C. was given the opportunity to march in the 188th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah on March 17.
The Savannah St. Patrick's Day parade is one of the biggest parades in the nation and the 208th was thrilled to be a part of it. Approximately 60 bands and about 15,000 people marched in the parade which had well over a million viewers.
"I enjoy the camaraderie," said Sgt. First Class Wayne White, saxophone player for the 208th. White has 36 years of Military service under his belt and his passion for music indicates that he doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon. White walked around all day long with his instrument around his neck playing his saxophone enthusiastically. "This is what it's all about. The Reserve has given me the opportunity to do something that I love," said White. He has been with the 208th since the 1980's.
The parade didn't start until 10:15 a.m. and the band found out once they arrived that they wouldn't be marching until towards the end of the parade. This gave them the opportunity to observe the parade and mingle with the citizens of Savannah.
13-year band member Staff Sgt Julia Robinson, Operations Sergeant and clarinet player for the band, was one of the personnel involved in organizing and communicating with the Savannah organization for the 208th to even be involved in the parade. "This weekend we were suppose to attend an event in Myrtle Beach but it got cancelled," said Robinson.
"It was a great honor for the 208th Army Band to be selected to participate in the Savannah St. Patrick's Day parade and celebration."
It was going on 2:00 p.m. and the band had been waiting patiently in the heat since around 8:00 when they arrived at the parade site. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Timothy Lyden, commander and bandmaster for the 208th, gathered his troops around and prepared them for what was to come, giving them the layout of the 2.5 mile parade route before they started marching.
Standing tall and looking good, they took off at approximately 2:30 walking towards a sea of green standing and clapping with every step that they took.
"The parade is the second largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the country and it was not only high exposure for our unit but for the 81st RSC as well," said Robinson. The band received positive feedback from the crowd in the form of patriotic cheers, applause and well wishes for everything we do for the country.
The 208th was one of the four military bands that performed and the last band to march in the parade.
"We were chosen this year as the parade adjutant's band and given a special place in the," said Robinson.
SPC Tyrissa Swilley trombone player for the 208th didn't know what to expect, she just knew that playing music is something that she loves.
"Wow, is all I can say. This parade was truly something amazing to be a part of," she said. "As we marched in step and played our patriotic tunes, hundreds of people in green stood to their feet to honor us and celebrate."
Swilley has been with the band since 2008. "When you're marching, playing and looking sharp, you don't really think you are doing anything spectacular, just doing your job," said Swilley. "But when you march by and people are standing in your honor, clapping and smiling, running to shake your hand and giving you beads, high-fives and kisses, you remember why you love your job."