Marching to the Beat: CHS marching band named Grand Marshal of parade, prepares for CarmelFest


Submitted Photo

Izzy Topp, marching band drum major and sophomore, conducts during a rehearsal outside after school. Topp said the marching band’s success at competitions contributed to its Grand Marshal title.

Emily Carlisle

This July, the CHS marching band will serve as Grand Marshal of CarmelFest, which is celebrating its 31st year. As Grand Marshal, the band will lead the Centier Bank CarmelFest parade which is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on July 4 starting on AAA Way. This year, the event, which annually attracts about 55,000 visitors, will take place at the Civic Square, hosted by Carmel City Hall.

Sophomore Izzy Topp will be a second-year drum major next year. Topp said she believes the
marching band’s past success greatly impacted its selection as Grand Marshal.

Topp said, “Our past competitive success, especially with winning (the Bands of America Grand National Championship) for three years in a row, definitely helped our chances. But with (an event) like CarmelFest, it is very community-based and the marching band is a part of the community so it is very fun for us to be a part of this. We want to recognize what the community has done for us this past couple of years and show our appreciation for everyone.”

Along with Topp, sophomore Jacob Olekszyk will also be a drum major next year. Olekszyk said he agrees with Topp and added that marching band really brings people together.

“We love being in marching band and have worked very hard to get where we are,” Olekszyk said. “Getting to represent our city and Carmel High School in (this) parade is very exciting.”

Band director Chris Kreke said Topp was correct in saying the competitive success had aided the band in gaining this title. According to Kreke, CarmelFest’s parade committee chose the marching band to commemorate its three wins at BOA Grand Nationals.

Kreke said, “It’s a simple selection process by the parade committee. They selected our marching band as the Grand Marshal of the parade to celebrate our three consecutive national championships. We got contacted by the organizing committee about two months ago to let us know that we’d be the Grand Marshal for the parade.”

This past year at BOA Grand Nationals, the band scored 97.350 points, beating Avon High School by only 1.175 points. This small lead, however, was enough for the parade committee to take notice of the hard work these students have done for the past three years.

Olekszyk said this is a big opportunity for the marching band.

Veronica Teeter
Natalie Crispin, marching band member and junior, practices during a rehearsal. Marching band will begin rehearsing at the begining of summer break to prepare for CarmelFest.

He said, “(The CarmelFest parade) is a big honor for us because we have not had the chance to do something like this before. We get to march for the community, instead of just at a competition or at a football game.”

Topp said she is excited to have the opportunity to not only be in the parade but also have the CHS marching band be named the title of Grand Marshal.

Topp said, “It is a very fun opportunity because again, not only do we get to do something for the community, but CarmelFest in itself is such a memorable tradition for so many people (and this community) that it will be really cool seeing how we fit into all of it.”

Kreke said the marching band sees this as an opportunity  to show support to the community that has always supported it.

Kreke said, “(This is very important to us because) it’s our community. It’s the people that support the marching band all year long with fundraising and coming to performances and things like that. It is a nice opportunity to be recognized by those people, but also (to be seen) by other people out in the community. Obviously it’s a huge event for Carmel and to let (the people of Carmel)  see us in that capacity would be great.”

Olekszyk said he hopes students and community members will watch the marching band lead the parade during CarmelFest.

“I think that everyone at Carmel High School should come see us perform in the parade.” Olekszyk said. “It would be really nice to show our appreciation for our city and for everyone who has helped us along our journey.”