By Chris Corso, Nick Canelas, Alexa Jones, Lauren Gibney, Sam Gillis, and Nelly Adamietz
Prior to the summer of 2011, the marching band had no place to call home.
But with the help and perseverance of the late George Parks, band members now have their own building, the aptly named George N. Parks Minuteman Marching Band Building. Parks was the director of the marching band for 33 years until he suffered a fatal heart attack last year on the way to support the Minuteman football team at the University of Michigan.
“It was George that made it happen,” said John Leonard, a musical arranger of the band.
PODCAST: Associate Director Thom Hannum on the legacy of George Parks, the new band building, transitioning with Timothy Anderson and band traditions.
Parks was the long-time advocate for this building and even coordinated funds for the $5.7 million building. Parks led a campaign to get alumni to donate. He knew if he could get 1,000 alumni to pledge $1,000, then he would end up with a total of $1 million. The university promised that if this were accomplished, they would agree to the building.
Located off Commonwealth Avenue, the new building provides not only practice space but also a place for members to connect. Now the Minuteman Marching Band has its first new home since leaving the Old Chapel in 1997. Students and staff alike love the new building.
“It’s amazing…I remember the first time I walked in to the big practice room; I actually started crying,” said senior Rachel Paine.
As students move in this week, band members have been practicing late into the evening, preparing for another football season.
“It’s beautiful, I don’t know if there is a single band in the country that has something like we have here,” said Tim Anderson, who has taken over as the new band director.
Parks is not far from the thoughts of Anderson and band members as the new season gets underway. Many agree that the only way to honor Parks is to continue his memorable legacy.
“He made band not only a good institution for learning and playing music but also a good bonding experience and somewhere where you feel like you belong,” said freshman Ben Bosco, member of the Drum Major Academy, which was founded by Parks in 1977.
Anderson feels the same way as he takes his post as director.
“I feel like I am the luckiest man on earth.”