Tarleton marching band to make televised Chicago parade appearance

Special to the E-T
Tarleton's The Sound & The Fury will make a nationally televised appearance when 135 students participate in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday.

Tarleton State University’s marching band, The Sound & The Fury, will make a nationally televised appearance when 135 students participate in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday.

The lone marching band from Texas, The Sound & The Fury also will be the only university band in the 81st annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, which will air live from downtown on Chicago’s WGN Channel 9 and across the U.S. on WGN America from 8 to 11 a.m. CST. The Tarleton band’s appearance may also be viewed online at www.WGNTV.com.

The entourage of students and Director Gary Westbrook will depart campus today for the 1,000-mile journey to the Windy City where they will trade traditional Thanksgiving turkey for Chicago deep-dish style pizza for the holiday.

The Sound & The Fury is one of 23 marching bands receiving an invitation to participate in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade—an event that will involve more than 3,000 band members who will march along State Street while being aired nationally to 72 million homes across the U.S. Tarleton is also only the second four-year university marching band invited to participate in the parade in its 81-year history.

“The bands at Tarleton State University have excelled at jazz and concert band performance and educating music educators throughout its history,” said Westbrook, who received the official invitation in April. “Tarleton is also known for athletic bands that perform well and are the keepers of the spirit and tradition at Tarleton. The Sound & The Fury is one of the largest student organizations on campus.”

Westbrook said the invitation “was too good an opportunity for The Sound & The Fury and for Tarleton State University to pass up. We have a number of alumni in the Chicago area and the opportunity to expand our reach nationally was a great incentive, too,” he added.

This year’s Tarleton marching band is the second-largest in the university’s history, made up of 157 members plus a drumline instructor and the director. The Sound & The Fury also features three drum majors, a feature twirler, color guard and woodwinds, brass and percussion sections.

The band’s trip to Chicago is being funded a number of ways, Westbrook explained. “Each marching band member is responsible for a portion of the trip. To help defray the cost for the students, the following sources of funding have contributed: Tarleton State University President’s Circle, Office of the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs, the dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, ULTRA Club, Division of Student Life, Tarleton State University Bands and the Ellis County Friends of Tarleton.”

The Sound & The Fury has twice marched in the London New Year’s Day Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, the Texas State Fair Parade and Starlight Parade at the Texas State Fairgrounds, and the Dallas Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade, among others.

“We are so excited to participate in this parade and to serve our university in this way,” said Westbrook. “We have prepared the music for awhile now, and this past week we took advantage of a November cold front in Texas to acclimate ourselves to marching in the cold. This is something that is rare for Texas bands.” 

During the appearance, The Sound & The Fury will play an arrangement of David Foster’s Carol of the Bells and another tune that will remind parade spectators where Tarleton hails from: The Lone Star State. The drumline will have a few surprises along the way, said Westbrook.