No Princeton Band in parade

There will be a number of bands marching tonight in the Rum River Festival Parade.

A Princeton marching band just won’t be one of them.

A decision was made Monday to pull the band from the parade. It appears that a low number of band participants is behind the move.

Thursday’s band performance was to be the culmination of a one-week band camp offered through Princeton Community Education, said community education director Gwen Anderson. This was to be the third year that community ed offered the band program after the Princeton High School Marching Band years ago fell victim to budget cuts.

The band camp was designed for students in grades 6-12, Anderson said. About 50 middle school students signed up for the camp, and just a handful of high school students.

It typically takes 80 students to field a band, said Supt. Richard Lahn. But with so many of the middle schoolers lacking experience, the band would have to play very simple pieces.

Middle school band director Carol Fillafer and high school band director Jim Baxter were concerned the integrity of the program could be jeopardized, Anderson said.

“It’s disappointing,” Anderson said.

“I feel horrible about it,” Lahn said. “But if we don’t have the students, we don’t have a band.”

School officials don’t know for sure, but they’re speculating that a new feature of the parade that has athletes walking with their sports teams may have hurt the band numbers.

“It’s the only thing we can think of,” Lahn said. “If they choose to walk with their teams, they can’t do both,” he said.

Princeton has such a strong music program and a rich tradition of fantastic musicians so school officials will not give up on fielding a band in the future.

“We’re going to be proactive. We’re not willing to give this up,” Anderson said.

Lahn said he will work with the band directors in the fall to being the process of recruiting students for next summer’s community education band camp with the goal of fielding a band in June 2013.