Every Thursday afternoon for the last several months, members of the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) All-City Marching Band have been tooting their horns, banging their drums, and clanging their cymbals in preparation for the upcoming AES 500 Festival Parade.
The IPS student group is one of nine marching bands — including eight from Indiana — invited to perform on the streets of downtown Indianapolis during the parade on Saturday, May 27, the day before the Indianapolis 500. The parade begins at 11:45 a.m.
This year’s theme is Fueling May, which celebrates the people, traditions, history, and memories that bring the spirit of May to life.
“This is an amazing opportunity for IPS students to come together and perform on a national stage for our community,” said Josh Goodman, who serves as the director of bands at Arsenal Technical High School. “It’s also the last performance for many of our seniors and gives upperclassmen an opportunity to teach incoming freshman who are currently eighth graders, an opportunity to start learning how to do marching band.
“For me, it’s a great way to celebrate the end of another successful year,” he said. “For many students who are graduating, it may be the last time I see them, so it’s a very special way to say goodbye. My favorite moment is when we make the turn to Monument Circle, and it looks like a wall of people in front of you. The students get so excited, and it really makes me feel connected to our city and community.”
Goodman noted that IPS marching bands have a long tradition of participating in the parade, which is celebrating its 67th year.
He said the IPS band has been working hard to prepare for the largest parade in Indiana, using Thursday practices after spring break as a “spring training” for the All-City Band’s fall competition show.
“We spend a lot of time building culture and developing bonds with students, and the instrument sections,” Goodman said. “It gives us an opportunity to develop leadership skills, and also hit the basics of marching that are needed to be successful.”
Also being featured in the parade is IPS Shortridge High School graduate Mykah Coleman, who is the Indianapolis 500 Queen Scholar for 2023.
Coleman is pursuing a degree in elementary education at Marian University and has spent the last several weeks as the mentee of IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson. In addition to attending various Indy 500 events and activities, Coleman has been meeting with students across the district to educate them about the history of the Indianapolis 500.