The Salt Lake Community College Summer Spirit Band took to the streets Wednesday night, rehearsing for upcoming performances by dodging traffic and entertaining residents in the neighborhood surrounding the South City Campus.
Band members marched for an hour, playing current and classic hits as residents danced, cheered and occasionally exchanged confused glances. Young children chased them down the streets, while parents emerged from their homes with camera-phones in hand. The musicians encountered several cars on their journey, but drivers looked more amused than annoyed as they waited for the students to pass.
These neighborhood rehearsals have become a summer tradition for SLCC band members as they prepare for the seasonal parades. This is the eighth year they've practiced by marching through the neighborhood around the campus at 1575 S. State St. Band director Craig Ferrin said it's been good for everyone involved.
"Since parades are always on the streets, we decided we just needed to head out on the streets," he said. "And gratefully and happily, people love it when we do this. The neighborhood thinks it's great."
Resident Jack Hudson was one of many who enjoyed the band's presence.
"They do an awesome job," Hudson said. "This is definitely the best marching band I've seen since high school."
Wednesday was the third of five planned rehearsals. Band members start the practice at the South City Campus Wednesdays around 7 p.m., then move into the streets about a half hour later. In addition to the neighborhood marches, the band will officially perform 10 times during the summer, starting with an appearance at West Valley City's West Fest on Saturday. Ferrin said parade attendees can expect an enjoyable, lighthearted performance.
"We're quite unique. A lot of the high school bands around try to look like lean, mean, military machines, and that's just not what we do," Ferrin said. "We don't have the time and we don't have the inclination. This is a lot more fun."
The band includes about 70 students, each of whom receives a $250 stipend. Although the band changes its music every year, Ferrin said the group always make sure to play "good ol' rock 'n' roll." This year's set list features "Some Nights" by Fun., "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond, "Hey Baby" by Bruce Channel and "YMCA" by the Village People.
After West Fest, the band will play in Taylorsville on June 29 and Riverton on July 3 before performing three times on the Fourth of July.
Ferrin said the band has two basic objectives.
"Principle number one is we have to sound great, and principle number two is everyone in the band and everyone on the parade routes that they perform for has to have lots of fun," Ferrin said. "If we are giving people joy and everyone's having a good time and we sound great, then it's a success."