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We have always thought it was brilliant on our part to have a high school marching band appear and perform at large public events that we often help stage for our clients.

HMA has done it numerous times over the years, including openings at major regional shopping malls, large outdoor complexes and even public transit centers.

I always thought it was a little of our “secret sauce.”   A way to guarantee lots of activity, creative a festive atmosphere and generate grassroots interest in the event, even if was only the parents of band members and a few others in attendance

So – wasn’t I surprised to be in Pittsburgh recently, walking along the Monongahela River, only to see one of the Gateway Clipper Fleet’s riverboats parading up and down the waterway with the Chartiers Valley High School marching band – complete with pom-pom line -- performing from the top deck!

The Gateway Clipper Fleet was celebrating 55 years of cruising Pittsburgh’s three rivers (the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers) and was christening the “Three Rivers Queen,” the newest member of its fleet.

Suzanne Krug, director of sales and marketing for the Gateway Clipper Fleet, came up with the idea.

“When a band marches in, especially with the marching cadence of the drums – it gets everyone’s attention. Plain and simple,” Krug said.

Our resident event queen Abbie Fink, who co-founded the Arizona Festivals and Events Association more than 20 years ago, noted, “A parade wouldn’t be a parade without a good marching band!”

Wendy Spivak, principal and founder of our PRGN affiliate The Castle Group in Boston, which has a strong events division, agreed: “They are great for getting a crowd energized and adding some color to an event.  Also – if they are a local group, it helps engage the community in what you are doing.”

Do you do anything special to make your events march to a different drummer?

Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio


  1. I had the pleasure of being with you and Susan when we stumbled upon this festive event in Pittsburgh several weeks ago. What I loved was how laser-focused you became when you spotted the marching band from a half-mile away!

    Yes, I do agree that marching bands — especially of the school variety — add an element of happiness, festivity and inclusiveness. Everyone loves a high school marching band!

    Part of what I enjoyed about this event was that Char Valley High School is located not far from my own alma mater, Mt. Lebanon High School. It brought back good memories.

    Thanks for reminding us about one of America’s great love affairs.

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