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Marching bands, strolling musicians and irrepressible Irish balladeers are already tuning up for Sedona’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 14, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

This family-friendly community event is designed for children of all ages, so get those folding chairs, sun shades and sunscreen at the ready for a celebration of people-watching, entertainment and all that’s green.

Though the parade may look effortless, months of meticulous planning is involved, the logistics provided primarily by 30 Northern Arizona University students taking the Parks and Recreation course taught by Professor Charles Hammersley, as well as 25 additional student volunteers who participate just for fun.

Sponsored by Sedona Main Street, the students sign up for the class in order to get hands-on experience in organizing and implementing large events.

Sedona also contributes a “Green Team,” comprised of several local volunteers, including John DiBattista who’s worked on the parade since 1999.

In addition to sponsorship acquisition, this year he’ll be working with the students on construction of a new entertainment stage.

“The lumber is being delivered Friday and we’ll be working on it nonstop till the paint goes on,” DiBattista said. “We’re setting it up so at the end it can be taken down, stored and reused every year.”

A parade lover ever since he marched as a Boy Scout in Illinois, DiBattista has said he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to work on it.

“The rewards are self-evident,” DiBattista said. “It’s an important event for Sedona, creating and reinforcing our sense of place, making you feel like you’re a part of the community.”

Once of his favorite memories from the past few parades was an 11-year-old American Indian from Ganado High School.

“There was a big snowstorm and no one in the band could make it down here except this one girl who showed up with her flute,” DiBattista said. “She won’t remember me, but I’ll never forget her, marching all alone, playing her flute and the crowd cheering her on.”

It’s last minute changes like that — a band not showing up — that “Green Team” member Ray Anderson has to work around.

Formerly a railroad engineer, Anderson puts his work experience to good use braiding walkers, horses, vehicles, dignitaries and bands into one continuous procession even though space limitations mean each of these groups assembles in a completely different location.

“It’s just like moving trains around a freight yard,” Anderson said.

One of the tricky parts for Anderson is that every year there are different participants, and for some people filling out the entry forms a truck means a pickup, but for others, namely County Supervisor Chip Davis, a truck meant a 70-foot semi-tractor trailer replete with band.

Then there are the niceties of order.

“You do not put the dancing grannies right behind the prancing horses,” Anderson said. “We also have a 12-foot clearance limit on Jordan Road. That means Out of Africa can bring their double-decker Hummer, but as far as animals go, I told them “It can be 1,000 pounds, but it has to be short. No giraffes!”

According to Anderson, putting it all together would be impossible without the students.

“The parade is 90 percent advance planning and 10 percent ‘day-of,’” Hammersley said. “It’s like pushing a boulder off a cliff; once it starts, all you can do is go along for the ride.”

No matter how much planning goes into it, there are always surprises.

“These events are dynamic and the students have to be able to think quickly, use excellent judgment and anticipate the future,” Hammersley said.

Two years ago one of the classic cars in the parade caught fire.

Thanks to emergency procedures in place for just that sort of unscheduled performance, the students were able to stop the parade, move the performers to one side and expedite the emergency vehicles.

The end result was that few parade watchers saw smoke much less any flames.

Just a few of the items on the advance planning to-do list include notifying residents and businesses along the parade route, inviting and tending to state and regional dignitaries, setting up displays and building the stage.

NAU student Kristen Dawn King is in charge of the dignitaries.

“I invited all the local mayors, county supervisors, the governor and our state and federal legislators, between 25 and 30 people in all,” King said. “Once they confirm they’re coming, I have to make banners for them and in some cases find transportation for them in the parade. They also need directions and we need to know how many guests they’re bringing so that we can make sure they have everything they need.”

Student chairwoman of the parade is Stephanie Outland who had good things to say about her team.

“Everything we’re doing, even mistakes, are learning experiences that will make it easier to do in the future,” Outland said. “When we first heard how much work it would take, we were like deer looking into headlights. Now, we’re getting more tense, both with fear and excitement, fear that we’ve forgotten something and excitement that all our work is coming to fruition!”

The students travel down from Flagstaff on Friday, setting up their headquarters in the West Sedona Elementary School.

If they’re lucky, they might get to sleep for an hour or two during the night, but more likely they’ll have to wait for some shut-eye until well after the last float is checked in at the end of the parade.

In the meantime, there are parking lots to staff, traffic to direct, signs to set up, a balloon arch to build and fires — hopefully figurative instead of literal — to fight.

For Outland, working on the parade will help in her pursuit of a Parks and Recreational Management major.

King said she’s enjoying working with the dignitaries and is learning time management as well as how best to work with a team rather than individually.

“This parade has a very high reputation to uphold and I want to make sure I do my best to keep it that way,” King said.

The parade will be preceded by the Shamrocks in the Red Rocks Road Race at 8 a.m., also on Jordan Road, which is presented by the students independently.

A Parade Festival begins immediately following the procession, including live dance music, face painting, balloon animal-making, exotic animals from Out of Africa Wildlife Park, a bounce castle, mural painting, food court and beer garden.

All of the entertainment and children’s activities are free, sponsored by local businesses.


Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or e-mail sjohnson@larsonnewspapers.com

 

Marching bands, strolling musicians and irrepressible Irish balladeers are already tuning up for Sedona’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 14, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

This family-friendly community event is designed for children of all ages, so get those folding chairs, sun shades and sunscreen at the ready for a celebration of people-watching, entertainment and all that’s green.

Though the parade may look effortless, months of meticulous planning is involved, the logistics provided primarily by 30 Northern Arizona University students taking the Parks and Recreation course taught by Professor Charles Hammersley, as well as 25 additional student volunteers who participate just for fun.

Sponsored by Sedona Main Street, the students sign up for the class in order to get hands-on experience in organizing and implementing large events.

Sedona also contributes a “Green Team,” comprised of several local volunteers, including John DiBattista who’s worked on the parade since 1999.

In addition to sponsorship acquisition, this year he’ll be working with the students on construction of a new entertainment stage.

“The lumber is being delivered Friday and we’ll be working on it nonstop till the paint goes on,” DiBattista said. “We’re setting it up so at the end it can be taken down, stored and reused every year.”

A parade lover ever since he marched as a Boy Scout in Illinois, DiBattista has said he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to work on it.

“The rewards are self-evident,” DiBattista said. “It’s an important event for Sedona, creating and reinforcing our sense of place, making you feel like you’re a part of the community.”

Once of his favorite memories from the past few parades was an 11-year-old American Indian from Ganado High School.

“There was a big snowstorm and no one in the band could make it down here except this one girl who showed up with her flute,” DiBattista said. “She won’t remember me, but I’ll never forget her, marching all alone, playing her flute and the crowd cheering her on.”

It’s last minute changes like that — a band not showing up — that “Green Team” member Ray Anderson has to work around.

Formerly a railroad engineer, Anderson puts his work experience to good use braiding walkers, horses, vehicles, dignitaries and bands into one continuous procession even though space limitations mean each of these groups assembles in a completely different location.

“It’s just like moving trains around a freight yard,” Anderson said.

One of the tricky parts for Anderson is that every year there are different participants, and for some people filling out the entry forms a truck means a pickup, but for others, namely County Supervisor Chip Davis, a truck meant a 70-foot semi-tractor trailer replete with band.

Then there are the niceties of order.

“You do not put the dancing grannies right behind the prancing horses,” Anderson said. “We also have a 12-foot clearance limit on Jordan Road. That means Out of Africa can bring their double-decker Hummer, but as far as animals go, I told them “It can be 1,000 pounds, but it has to be short. No giraffes!”

According to Anderson, putting it all together would be impossible without the students.

“The parade is 90 percent advance planning and 10 percent ‘day-of,’” Hammersley said. “It’s like pushing a boulder off a cliff; once it starts, all you can do is go along for the ride.”

No matter how much planning goes into it, there are always surprises.

“These events are dynamic and the students have to be able to think quickly, use excellent judgment and anticipate the future,” Hammersley said.

Two years ago one of the classic cars in the parade caught fire.

Thanks to emergency procedures in place for just that sort of unscheduled performance, the students were able to stop the parade, move the performers to one side and expedite the emergency vehicles.

The end result was that few parade watchers saw smoke much less any flames.

Just a few of the items on the advance planning to-do list include notifying residents and businesses along the parade route, inviting and tending to state and regional dignitaries, setting up displays and building the stage.

NAU student Kristen Dawn King is in charge of the dignitaries.

“I invited all the local mayors, county supervisors, the governor and our state and federal legislators, between 25 and 30 people in all,” King said. “Once they confirm they’re coming, I have to make banners for them and in some cases find transportation for them in the parade. They also need directions and we need to know how many guests they’re bringing so that we can make sure they have everything they need.”

Student chairwoman of the parade is Stephanie Outland who had good things to say about her team.

“Everything we’re doing, even mistakes, are learning experiences that will make it easier to do in the future,” Outland said. “When we first heard how much work it would take, we were like deer looking into headlights. Now, we’re getting more tense, both with fear and excitement, fear that we’ve forgotten something and excitement that all our work is coming to fruition!”

The students travel down from Flagstaff on Friday, setting up their headquarters in the West Sedona Elementary School.

If they’re lucky, they might get to sleep for an hour or two during the night, but more likely they’ll have to wait for some shut-eye until well after the last float is checked in at the end of the parade.

In the meantime, there are parking lots to staff, traffic to direct, signs to set up, a balloon arch to build and fires — hopefully figurative instead of literal — to fight.

For Outland, working on the parade will help in her pursuit of a Parks and Recreational Management major.

King said she’s enjoying working with the dignitaries and is learning time management as well as how best to work with a team rather than individually.

“This parade has a very high reputation to uphold and I want to make sure I do my best to keep it that way,” King said.

The parade will be preceded by the Shamrocks in the Red Rocks Road Race at 8 a.m., also on Jordan Road, which is presented by the students independently.

A Parade Festival begins immediately following the procession, including live dance music, face painting, balloon animal-making, exotic animals from Out of Africa Wildlife Park, a bounce castle, mural painting, food court and beer garden.

All of the entertainment and children’s activities are free, sponsored by local businesses.


Susan Johnson can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 129, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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