in the Fur Rondy Parade

by Michael R Dougherty

Here comes the Rondy Parade

Here comes the Rondy Parade

If you were in a marching band in Anchorage's yearly February Fun Rendezvous Parade, there were three things you always worried about.

Would you slip and fall in front of the assembled crowd on a patch of snow-covered ice?

Would you be marching behind horses? Horses sometimes leave “things” as they go by.

And would your musical instrument freeze up as you marched along?

For anyone who lived, or still lives in or near Anchorage, the yearly Fur Rendezvous was and is a welcome February break. It's filled with plenty of fun things to do. There are events like the Fur Auction, Snow Shoe Baseball and the World Champion Sled Dog Races. There are also Outhouse Races, a melodrama, and carnival rides.

You could sit in the warmth of your home and watch the festivities on television, or you could bundle up and take in any number of fun events all over town.

Now earlier I mentioned the Rondy Parade, which always included entries from civic groups and floats of all kinds.

One year a float was feverishly being constructed with hammers and saws working fast and furious as the float went along the parade route. A sign on the float read “we thought it was “next week.” The float got plenty of laughs from the happy crowd.

And of course, there were marching bands.

Yes, even though it was cold outside, the local school bands were out in force.

I attended East High School and played trumpet in the advanced symphonic band under the direction of Mr. James Everly. The advanced band played concerts, played for all the football and basketball games, and marched in the Fur Rondy Parade.

Now marching in the parade was a privilege and a lot of fun. But it did pose a few problems.

First, we had to march on snow and ice. And that meant while marching in step, you might hit a slick patch and fall to the snowy ground in front of everyone along the parade route, including the live TV audience. Talk about teen insecurity.

Secondly, if you were marching behind a group of horses, or even one horse, you had to be extra careful not to step in what the horses may have left behind. Worse yet, you're worried about slipping on a slick patch of ice and snow and falling into something the horses left behind. Ugh, double ugh.

Now it's important for me to point out that I do not ever recall anyone in our band who slipped on the ice and fell, or anyone who stepped in what horses leave behind.

Thirdly, there was always the possibility that your musical instrument would freeze up. Every time I marched in the Fur Rondy Parade in the 1960s, my trumpet valves froze up solid about halfway through the parade. So, there I was, “pretending” to play my trumpet.

The Fur Rendezvous Festival is an event everyone looks forward to. It was a great escape from those long winter days and nights.

But if you march in the Rondy Parade, just remember to look down once in a while.

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in the Fur Rondy Parade

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Dimond High School Band
by: Steve Wehmhoff

In 1970, I marched in my first Rondy parade with the Dimond High School band.

Shout out to the late Ashford Kelley, our band director.

We were behind a horse group that year, with one of the Rondy princesses in a convertible in front of us.

The horses did what horses do, and the car tires of the convertible smeared it down the whole parade route.

Poor Bob Hammond had to march the entire parade route in that mess. I wonder if that was why he quit band the next year?

"Frozen Fingers"
by: Mary J Dougherty

Watched the parade for years. Interesting Mike.

I watched the band from East High School marching in the Rondy Parade for all those years, and there in the band was my future husband just marching along in the freezing cold weather.

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