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Adult Marching Band Refuses to Yield

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Adult Marching Band Refuses to Yield

Adult Marching Band Refuses to Yield

Adult Marching Band Refuses to Yield

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Get a Life Marching Band members range in age from 18 to 70. They say they’re having a better time now than when they were in high school band. Get A Life Marching Band hide caption

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Get A Life Marching Band

Many of the band's baton twirlers hadn't twirled since high school. They sew their own dresses and practice complex parade-route routines. Here, Patti Waitman, Leslie Mundt and Barb Zahler twirl their way down a parade route. Manfred Grabski hide caption

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Manfred Grabski

The members of the Get a Life Marching Band resemble students in any high school band: They wear uniforms, they march in parades and some of them twirl batons.

But these musicians would more likely recognize the lyrics to Don McLean's 1971 ballad "American Pie" than the movie of the same name that threw a fresh spotlight on high school marching bands in the late '90s.

Band members range in age from 18 to 70, though most are middle-aged, which is why band co-founder Bob Pulido likes to keep the marching band’s performances to shorter distances.

"If I can get two-mile parades or less, we're happy," he says. "When I work out a contract, I make sure they feed us."

Pulido is also the band's resident comedian. His vast repertoire is slapstick, but he's come up with a few verbal quips describing the Get a Life band.

"I'd rather miss a beat than a chance to eat," he says, referring to the group's motto. "We'd rather miss a note than a meal. I'd rather drop a tuba than my fork. You dig what I'm saying?"

Get a Life Marching Band members certainly dig it. For some of them, though, the ensemble is more than just a band — it's a family affair. Clarinetist Debbie Sloop's brother plays trumpet and her parents play percussion. She notes that the band isn't hard to get into.

"The requirement would be preferably that you had played in high school marching band so that you know how to march," she says, adding that there's no audition. "Just show up and read the music. Play. Have fun. That's it."

Having fun is really what the band is all about. The musicians occasionally practice. The band's twirlers and dancers are careful to do some warm-ups, says Sy Behren, who twirled 50 years ago in high school, and dances with the band.

"We do have conditioning classes," she says. "The dancers do have classes to keep in shape and you know how to limber up so we don't hurt anything on the parade route."

The Get a Life band started in 1994. They have close ties to an earlier group, the Second Time Arounders of St. Petersburg, Fla., who have been marching for 25 years. Get a Life co-founder Palido says you can't play in either group if you're too concerned about cellulite.

"Yeah we're getting older. We're fatter and we're crinkly, but we're having fun," he says.

Get a Life band members say they're having a better time now than when they were in high school. For one, high school bands often enter competitions in which their performances are judged. Get a Life members are just out to have fun.

This year the band took its first international trip to Victoria, B.C. Next year they travel to San Antonio, Texas. Want to get in on the fun? The Get a Life Marching Band is always looking for high school band retirees.