The year 2020 would have marked Bismarck’s 50th annual Band Night Parade. There is no need to explain why the semicentennial celebration didn’t happen – it wasn’t a nationwide reed shortage.

But things are now finally back on track. On the evening of May 14th the air outside the North Dakota State Capitol will burst with jubilation as marching bands begin to promenade. Musicians from across the Midwest will fill all of downtown with the proud oompah of brass and the sweet lilt of woodwinds. The Band Night Parade is Bismarck’s most joyous event of the year.

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“The Band Night Parade has been a proud community tradition since it began in May of 1970,” said Mathew Schirado of Eckroth Music. “The bands come from a huge area all around Bismarck. In the past we have welcomed bands visiting from as far away as South Dakota, Montana, and even Canada. The marching bands are formed by elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, as well as adults who just love the art and the music of marching.

“Returning this year are the Strolling Strings of Bismarck, the Legacy Jazz Choir which brings a genre of music we seldom get to hear during a parade, the Southwest Marching Band which in the past has had over 300 kids from a dozen different schools scattered throughout southwest North Dakota, as well as the local middle and high school bands.

“We are especially proud our own Eckroth Music Band, which is made up of talented local musicians of all ages. Members of the band have ranged from doctors to retired teachers, and so many others who chose a career path that didn’t involve music, who all gather for the Band Night Parade to showcase the power and lasting impact of band.

“The Band Night Parade is a nostalgic time even for those who don’t perform. You see a lot of people following right alongside their old alma maters’ marching bands, eager to see how the next generation performs the classics they remember so well. For many the parade is the only time they ever get to hear their home town anthems.

“It’s a spectacle just for the bands’ uniforms alone. They wear bright and flashy uniforms, with brilliant reds and shiny brass buttons and traditional shako caps. In between the bands come all the local businesses and nonprofit organizations that help the parade happen every year. Joining us this year, just to name a few, are Fastrax BMX, Just for Kix, Brave the Shave, and so many more all waving from their floats and handing out candy.

“It’s a night that brings thousands together not just in one place, at one time. It unites us all in spirit.

“I hope more people will come out this year than ever before. We need this big energy now more than ever, and the parade is the only true way to kick off a North Dakotan summer.”

Don’t fail to kick off the summer properly! Station yourself and your family by the capitol building on Friday, May 14th at 6:30pm. The parade will go down 6th Street, ono Avenue A, and up 4th street to finish back at the capitol. Beautiful local traditions like the Band Night Parade are too few to miss.


By David Scheller