Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps preps for Macy’s parade

Group to perform for its largest audience
Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps preps for Macy’s parade

When the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps marches for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it will be their largest audience in their history.

There will be nearly 430 current Scouts and alumni in Manhattan. The group has members from all over the world.

It has 33 years since Brian Parker first joined the group. He played tenor drums for the Madison Scouts from 1981 to 1988. During an interview at his home in Waunakee, he looked back with fond memories.

“Just a great group of staff and group of guys you march with and you just become essentially brothers,” Parker said, “Best part back then, just the feeling of going out and putting on a great show and the crowd getting on their feet at the end of a show.”

He said the worst part was carrying his drums that weigh 60 pounds.

At 47 years old and working in the tech field, Parker was thrilled to take the drums out again.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be his largest audience. Parker recalled the Cotton Bowl Parade in 1987 as the biggest one he had done.

Since it was announced last year, Madison Scouts all over the world have been preparing.

The Internet played a big part connecting more than 400 members to each other and the music. On top of memorizing the music, the Scouts have to play the correct interpretation of the songs while being in sync with their style.

Preparing for the parade has been a challenge, since Scouts have to practice on their own.

Despite the pressure, Madison Scout alum John Weekes said he is looking forward to the experience reuniting with former members.

Weekes played the snare drum and marched with the group for three years in the 1990s.

“I joined because my older brothers in my family, they marched in the early ’80s,” said Weekes. His older brother and father-in-law, who both marched with the Madison Scouts, passed away but will be there in spirit since the drum corps will carry a flag bearing names of Scouts who have died.

Now a project manager in technology systems, Weekes practices on his breaks at his desk and even outside.

“It hurt. Hands, bones, muscles turn into rubber bands over time, had to take it in stride and step to work condition of building back your chops and endurance,” Weekes said about returning to the snare drum.

Madison Scouts had only two rehearsals a couple of days before Thanksgiving.