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Award-winning Bemidji High School marching band to perform

Paradegoers will be tempted to stand up and dance when they hear the Bemidji High School marching band perform top musical hits from the 1980s.

The marching band will wrap up its award-winning season by performing its parade routine, "1982," Sunday during the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival Grand Parade.

The parade will start at 1 p.m., embarking from the corner of 15th Street Northwest and Beltrami Avenue Northwest. It will finish at 15th Street.

Band director Derek Wickum said this has been the best season the marching band has ever experienced.

The band took first place in Class AA at the Pioneerland Marching Band Festival June 14 in Benson, Minn. It took third place in Class AAA at the Vikingland Parade Marching Championship June 26 in Alexandria.

The band also received the People's Choice Award at the Vikingland competition.

"It's been a great year for us this year," Wickum said. "We've come so far since we started this competitive circuit. This is the best year we've had and we've had some good years."

The 86-member marching band will perform the songs "We Got the Beat," "Thriller," "Open Arms" and "I Love Rock 'n' Roll."

Members will even perform dance moves from Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

"It's a really fun show," Wickum said. "The music is exciting. The drill design is pretty exciting to watch. We choreographed the entire 'Thriller' song, and people will get to see band doing it on the street."

Each marching band competition involves school bands marching down a 100-yard stretch of a city street with up to six judges critiquing them.

Competition judges critique a band on its musical selection, overall performance, choreography, visual effects and drill regiment. The percussion and the color guard sections are each judged separately.

"We work so hard together, and the members are also judged hard," Wickum said. "Since the beginning of the marching season, the percussion section has increased their point scores and has come the furthest."

The marching band started practicing in May, and once the school year ended, members practiced eight-hour days, three days a week.

Wickum estimates members probably put in a total of 200 hours of marching time since late May. The band even traveled to Virginia, Minn., to march in a parade as practice.

The weather has been great for marching, Wickum said, referring to the mostly cloudy skies the band has had during practices and competitions.

"The full sun wipes kids out," he said.

The Water Carnival parade typically features the BHS band as the only marching band, but this is because the event occurs during the Fourth of July weekend.

"It's hard to get marching band to come over the Fourth," Wickum said. "We'd like to see other bands, but it's hard to recruit them to come when most of them are marching in their home towns the same time."

Wickum said he hopes people will enjoy the parade Sunday.

"Everywhere we've been, people have really enjoyed seeing it," he said. "I hope people cheer along as we go by."