DURHAM – “All God’s children got strut,” read the slogan on the back of Bulltown Strutters clarinet player Blaise Kielar’s coat. Kielar and his wife, Cathy, who plays the bass drum, were preparing to take their place with other members of the Durham street band in the annual Parkwood Holiday Parade held Sunday.
Len Stanley, dressed in bright holiday garb and cap, led the way as the “head Strutter” as the band opened its march in the parade with “Mardi Gras Day.”
The Strutters were not the only band at the parade with strut and élan. Wool E. Bull was in the parade. Members of the Hillside High School Band and Jordan High School’s band were also warming up for the event. The drum lines were practicing riffs, and flag squads from both bands were practicing routines.
Hillside drum major Marius McAllister was preparing to march in his fourth Parkwood Parade. “It’s engaging,” he said of the neighborhood parade. Taryn Anthony, also a drum major at Hillside, said, “No matter where we are, people expect good things from Hillside. We’re here to provide it,” she said.
Danielle Edson, drum major for Jordan High School, was preparing to march in her third Parkwood Parade. The biggest challenge in parades for a drum major is having to perfect walking backward, Edson said. Trumpet player Ben Chesnut also was preparing to march in his third parade, and he commented on the camaraderie of past parades. “A lot of the neighborhood people come out of their houses and watch. They really appreciate our music, and everyone else’s,” Chesnut said.
Joann Bres, a 10-year Parkwood resident, was watching with other family members and friends. She has three daughters who live in Parkwood or nearby, she said. “Tug,” an American Staffordshire terrier, watched his first Parkwood parade with his person, Lorita Dudus, and her friends.
Martha Flow was riding her Arabian horse Marzhie. Flow said she has been riding for 16 years. Mindy Flow, Martha’s mother, commented on Marzhie’s good temperament with all the sirens, music and other parade noises. “Sometimes we’re right in front of bands, and she’s very quiet,” Mindy Flow said.
Superior Court Judge Elaine O’Neal Bushfan was riding in her first Parkwood parade. “I’m glad to be here,” Bushfan said. “Since Durham doesn’t have a parade anymore, I’m glad Parkwood is taking up the slack.”
Other participants were various Girl Scout troops, the Easley Elementary Golden Skippers (a jump-rope troupe), a group calling itself The Grateful Dads and Dadettes, and other organizations.
The annual parade dates back “as far as I can trace it,” said Bill Mitchell, recently elected president of the Parkwood Homeowners Association. The parade has been a tradition since at least the mid-1960s, he said. Parkwood had the first homeowners association in the state, he said.
“It’s a good community,” he added.