Trail Maple Leaf Band’s long history marching in parades

Toll of marching for years has members now performing from a flat bed truck

Trail Maple Leaf Band circa the early 1990s. (Submitted photo)

The Trail Maple Leaf Band is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017. In this milestone year, the Trail Times is featuring photos and stories of the band’s century-long history, pulling background from Steve Guidone’s 90th anniversary photo-history album (1917-2007). “On Parade” is an amusing excerpt by Guidone that covers the years from 1977 to 1997.

“Throughout its long history, the band has been sought after to march in parades in communities throughout western Canada and Washington State.

Training was minimal at the onset but later included drill practice in Gyro Park under the direction of experienced military men. In the early days they travelled by private vehicles sometimes leaving at 2 o’clock in the morning to get to places such as Kelowna for an 11 a.m. parade. Flat tires on poor roads were always a source of difficulty.

Lorne DePaolis (longtime band leader) said that he and another band member, ended up hitchhiking to Kamloops one time when their vehicle broke down. They found a travelling salesman in a bar at Osoyoos who agreed to give them a ride. Despite a stop at a Kelowna winery, they arrived at the parade before any others, which DePaolis quipped, ‘a testament to the salesman’s driving.’

“On another occasion, the band almost missed a parade in Nakusp. Just as they were about to eat a breakfast of pancakes, a member discovered the time of the parade had been changed without informing the band. The band managed to catch up to the parade by racing down a back alley and sliding into the middle of the action.

‘A good thing,’ said DePaolis. ‘Because we were really the only band in the parade … they would have really missed us … it would have been pretty silent.’

For a Warfield Sports Day parade in the 70s, Elmo Ferro donated the use of Korpak’s Cement Products flat bed trailer for the band to ride on. It was much easier than marching, but the truck’s exhaust fumes made breathing difficult and the sudden starts and stops almost flipped members off their chairs.

The band continued to march in parades into the 1990’s but with less frequency. Some older members were finding it increasingly difficult to march long parades carrying instruments.

Today, the band exclusively performs in parades on a flat-bed trailer.”

As the band’s July celebration weekend nears, the group is having trouble tracking down past members.

Anyone who is in contact with former Trail Maple Leaf Band musicians is asked to contact the person, or direct him/her to information about the Anniversary Reunion at the group’s website, trailmapleleafband.ca.

The Reunion Concert is set for July 22 at 7 p.m. in the Trail Memorial Centre gym.