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Witnesses to history: AHS band part of inaugural parade in bicentennial year [with gallery]

Members of the Andalusia High School band got to be a part of history as they marched up Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue to the state Capitol to celebrate the inauguration of Gov. Kay Ivey.

Band director Benny Shellhouse said it was hectic trying to get everything in order for the band’s participation.

“The amount of people participating in the parade was amazing,” Shellhouse said. “Just trying to unload and get in line was pretty chaotic. I don’t know if there were as many people watching the parade as there were participating in the parade.”

The parade featured five university bands and 17 high school bands.

Despite quick turnaround between the band’s Jan. 2 invitation and Jan. 14 performance, Shellhouse said that it was an honor to be invited.

“It is a great honor for us to be able to come here and represent Andalusia here at the inaugural parade,” Shellhouse said. “This is something that I think would kind of be an influence to our kids and something that they can remember.”

He said that people in northern Alabama don’t see the band, so the parade was great exposure for them.

“This parade was definitely something where people got a chance to see us a little bit more,” Shellhouse said. “A lot of people in South Alabama know who we are, but most people in north Alabama don’t have a clue who we are.”

For the seniors in the band, performing in the inaugural parade is something they can always remember, Shellhouse said.

“I am really excited for the kids to be able to do this,” Shellhouse said. “Especially for seniors, now they get the opportunity to put it on their resume or in their memory book. It is just a great honor all around.”

For senior band member Lindsay Dobyne, performing in the inaugural parade was heartwarming.

“It was a very fun parade to march in, even though it was really cold,” Dobyne said. “But despite that, it was very fun and it was a great time to march in it with my friends. I’m glad I get to end my senior year with a bang.”

Senior Sarah Piggott said that this semester she is looking at band as a blessing.

“It’s something that I look forward to coming to do,” Piggott said. Now that I’ve made so many friendships in band, I am going to miss it a lot. This parade is something that I wouldn’t have gotten to experience without band, so I am very thankful.”

Sophomore Skylar York said, “It really was a great opportunity. Kay Ivey was beautiful.”

Gina and Steven French made the hour and a half drive to watch their son, Grayson French, march.

“It is just unbelievable,” French said. “I want to say it’s heartbreaking to watch him since it is his senior year, but it is also joyful because I know there will be stuff down the road that will hopefully be just as big.”

Those participating in the parade included the University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band, the Auburn University Marching Band, Troy University’s Sound of the South, Alabama State University and Jacksonville State University.

AHS grad Hampton Glenn is a drummer in UA’s Million Dollar Band and AnaSara Kipp is a color guard member in the Auburn University Marching Band.

Other participating high schools included BB Comer, Jefferson Davis, Wilcox County, Headland, Jemison, Briarwood Christian, Hillcrest, Leeds, Fayette County, Arab, Piedmont, Springville, Jasper, Brindlee, Haleyville and Sparkman.