It started with a simple message on their Facebook page, “The parade is on. No matter how cold, RHR will be there to entertain.” This was posted on January 2, calling all members to gear up and perform at a unique parade being held on a very frigid Saturday afternoon, January 6, in Cleveland, OH.
What could be so special that members of a talented marching unit would brave near-zero temperatures to even touch their brass horns, much less actually attempt to play? Read on and you will learn more.
As reported on the Internet social media and ESPN, the “Perfect Season Parade” included thousands of bummed-out Cleveland Browns fans who were upset their team went 0-16 for the NFL regular season, as reported by the Associated Press. The organizer Chris McNeil’s parade included buses, RVs, an ambulance, plus a casket to show their dissatisfaction with this season, believing a misery parade will be a cathartic experience.
Eric Betcher, RHR President, informed members that they, too, would be performing as the the only marching organization to participate in the parade.
The parade was held on the streets surrounding the First Energy Stadium, home to the Cleveland Browns NFL football team. Donations were collected to cover expenses and any excess was donated to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
For their part, the Browns organization supported the fans’ right to protest via the parade.
“We greatly appreciate the passion of all our fans and we apologize to them for not making 2017 an enjoyable season,” the team said in a statement. We certainly hear them and understand their frustration. Obviously,we want the same thing as our fans — winning results. We are committed to doing everything we can to improve and build them the type of team they most certainly deserve.”
Eric Betcher, RHR President, tweeted after the parade, “Other than that misspelling (Hollow), how cool is it we got ESPN coverage. Good job drum corps dealing with the frozen valves.“
As one person reported, “The parade didn’t read like a protest, though. It was a hodgepodge of Cleveland characters and inside jokes. As fans streamed toward the stadium, the scene looked more like a optimistic game day than a somber march.”
There was between 2,500 and 3,200 people who showed up, police estimated.
Parade organizer Chris McNeil began fund-raising for a parade last year, after the Browns won one of the final games to finish last year’s season at 1-15.
I had an on-line chat with Eric Betcher after the parade:
WAT: Were you contacted or did you volunteer RHR? Are you a big Browns fan?
ER: I volunteered. It’s a great way to have my corps connect with the community. Yes, I am a Browns fan
WAT: Cool! Would the parade happen even if they won that last game against the Steelers?
ER: No. I did not know if we were going to perform ’til they lost the last game
WAT: How many showed up from RHR? I saw the video so I know it was two guard members, but watching on my phone, it was unclear since you guys were doing a serpentine move on the video.
ER: I hear a few of your great sopranos killing it in the upper range. Must have been tough in the cold?
WAT: How much time from arrival to finish were you guys out in the frigid cold?
ER: We had 27 people come out. We had members of the Columbus Saints, Erie Thunderbirds and Northcoast Brass Company. It was freezing cold. Impossible to play in-tune. When we were on the side of the stadium, away from the lake, we could play. As soon as we turned the corner, the wind hit us and our valves froze. We arrived at 10:00 AM, left about 1:15PM.
ER: I found out we had 34 people come for the parade.
WAT: Sorry, like a game show, I can only take your first answer. 😁
WAT: Last question. How is RHR doing and is there any change in your status? Sill sticking with SDCA and SoundSport?
ER: This up coming season we plan to stay with SDCA and SoundSport. If things go as I planned, we will be trying to get into DCA the following season. Our Web site is www.rogueshollowregiment.com. We are always looking for members and sponsorships. “This parade was a great time and everyone had a blast. Just like years ago the local drum corps goes out and entertains. Fun stuff!” said Eric in his final statement.