BELLINGHAM - The Bellingham High School Alumni marching band plans on going out on a high note Saturday, May 26, in the Ski to Sea Grand Parade.
The marching band will close out the parade, which starts at noon at the corner of Cornwall Avenue and Alabama Street.
After 15 years of performing, this last march will be bittersweet for band members, said alumni band past president Rick Sucee.
"There's a lot of us that would've loved to keep this going," he said. "But we can't do it if we don't have the right instrumentation and enough people."
The alumni concert band will continue to perform, he said. But with a group of musicians that are getting older, the marching band just can't go on.
"We saw it coming," Sucee said. "We're just not as young as we used to be. I don't know what it is, but we're not attracting younger members. They've got so many things to do in their lives these days that practicing on Saturday to march in a parade wasn't one of them."
For Bellingham couple Ken and Sue Lingbloom, the alumni band has been a "phenomenal" part of their lives, but the marching band was difficult to keep up with as they aged.
"It's been a tough one as the years have gone by to see the marching part of the band get a bit smaller and smaller and smaller year by year," Ken Lingbloom said. "Let's say, 'OK, it's been a good run for our marching band.' Perhaps we should go out with a flourish rather than a fizzle."
For its last performance, the marching band will stop in front of Bellingham High School and sing the "Band Alumni" song. Those who can no longer march will walk behind the marching band and sing along, with people also at the high school singing. Marchers will wear patches to honor band members who have died or who can't march.
Sue Lingbloom said that the last march will be a sad one - during practice, people had said they hoped they wouldn't cry too hard.
But she and other band members are happy to know the band is going to go out with pride, with at least 100 marchers expected to participate. People are coming from as far as the East Coast to be a part of the final march.
"We want to go out looking good," Sucee said. "So that's what we intend to do."
Former Bellingham mayor and alumni band member Mark Asmundson agreed the marching band's departure will mean the loss of a great tradition for Bellingham. But maybe once it's gone, a new tradition can begin.
"There is a time for everything, and the marching band has had a great run and it's been a big community favorite," he said. "And now it's time for something else."
- Starts: Noon Saturday, May 26.
- Ends: About 2 p.m.
- Route: Begins at Alabama Street and Cornwall Avenue. Heads down Cornwall to East Champion Street to North State Street, ending at York Street.
- Best viewing: Anywhere along parade route. Bring lawn chairs and arrive early for front-row seats.
- Streets closed: Portions of Cornwall and nearby streets closed as early as 7 a.m. Main route closure from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 756-2803.