NEWTON, N.H. — Live music has always been a central part of the Newton Memorial Day parade, but that tradition is changing.
For the first time last year, Newton had to use prerecorded tracks for their annual Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony due to the Sanborn Regional High School band being unable to play as they had in the past for both the Newton and Kingston parades.
Band director Matthew Brand contacted officials from both towns to let them know that the high school band will no longer be able to participate.
“I am saddened to not have our band be a part of these events for our veterans and for our towns, but I must make program decisions that are in the best interest of my students, their parents, and the overall well-being of our band program,” he said.
Sanborn Principal Brian Stack explained the reason for the band’s absence as being because of their small group and families of band students not being willing to commit to being available on Memorial Day.
“Parents are pushing back because they want that family time,” he said.
Stack and Brand both noted that Sanborn is not alone in this, as there is a general trend of high school bands no longer being able to play for their local parades due to these same reasons.
The town of Newton is sad to see this tradition end, according to Selectman Matt Burrill.
“I hope the student musicians know how important they are to their community,” he said.
With no budget for the parade, Newton hasn’t been able to find any live music and will use prerecorded tracks for the second year in a row.
Burrill said that last year the parade experienced “technical difficulties” with their prerecorded tracks that made the parade “oddly silent.”
“My biggest concern was the image we were painting for our veterans and their families who were present,” he said. “This annual event should be first-class to honor their service."
A local veteran, Bill Harding, also commented on the lack of music affecting the parade by saying, “What’s a parade without live music?”
“Of course I don’t want to force anyone, but you would think people would have wanted to volunteer their time to the veterans,” he said.
Other than a few years where they were absent because of weather, the Sanborn Regional High School band lead the Newton parade through the streets and played the "The Star-Spangled Banner" and taps for the Newton ceremony at Whittier Street Cemetery.
The Newton Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, at the Newton Fire & Rescue Station and the Kingston Memorial Day Parade will follow at 1 a.m. starting from the Kingston Town Hall.