by Maria on June 3rd, 2021

photo from bobblair.smugmug.com
It was a wonderful day in so many ways! First, the weather was perfect. It was 70 degrees and sunny. Second, there were many spectators along the parade route and at the ceremony, and most of them were not wearing masks. Third, Kelley's Heroes had a good turnout, and in spite of not playing together for over a year, we sounded pretty good!

It is our tradition to invite family and friends to march with us on Memorial Day. We had Steve and Margaret's daughters, Angelina and Maddy, and  Bob and Anya's son, Grant. Tracey invited her son's Cub Scout pack, York Leicester Pack 4076, to march with us. Marchers included her son, Zachary, the Harris family and Hunter.

For banner carriers, we had Angelina and Grant. For woodwinds, we had Tracey on piccolo and Sarah, Emma and Katelyn on flute; Jodi and Cindy on clarinet, Margaret, Steve and Mike H. on alto saxophone; Jack and Maria on tenor saxophone. For brass, we had Arnie on trumpet, Zach on trombone, Anya on baritone and Don H. on sousaphone. For percussion, we had Jonah on snare drum and Andy on bass drum.
Of course, not having played for more than a year produced a few glitches. Some people couldn't find their music or parts of their uniform or, in one case, their instrument. With a little creative problem solving, everyone was good-to-go by the time we stepped off.
photo by s. rychlicki
The Cal-Mum High School Band didn't march because COVID restrictions have made it difficult for them to practice. We extended an invitation to the juniors and seniors to march with us, and flutists Emma and Katelyn took us up on that. Emma has marched with us before as a banner carrier; her mother, Sue, plays                                                                          photo by s. rychlicki
 trombone and sister, Sarah plays flute.                        
During the ceremony at the Legion, we played God Bless the USA and The Star-Spangled Banner. At the end, as the crowd was dispersing, we played Armed Forces Salute.

After the parade, a woman named Lorraine came over to talk to a few of us. She thought it was particularly fitting that we played Ghost Riders in the Sky as we were approaching the Legion. We weren't quite following her train

photo by a. hanson
of thought because we've always thought of Ghost Riders as a cowboy song. The lyrics contain a warning to wayward cowboys to mend their ways or they will be doomed to chase a devil herd of cattle through the skies for all eternity. However, Lorraine is from New Mexico, and she said the legend goes back even further to the Native Americans and had a more positive view. They believed that, after death, their spirits were freed from their bodies to join the eternal hunt in the skies. In the contect of Memorial Day, she was making a connection to our fallen military heroes and their spirits being set free.

This was a great way to start a new marching season, especially after not being able to perform for so long. Even though COVID restrictions are gradually lifting, many communities are either not scheduling events or scaling back events so performance opportunities are limited this year. Our next parade is the Penfield Independence Day Parade on July 3. See you there!

by Maria on December 8th, 2020

Finally! We got to play in a parade. If you look at the schedule on this web site, all you see is one event after another "Canceled due to coronavirus." It has been a whole year since we played for an event, and that event was the Hometown Holidays Parade in 2019.

At first, Kelley's Heroes was not going to participate in this parade because it was planned to be a vehicle parade, and there were no plans to include marching units. Then Janet from the parade committee suggested that the band could ride on a flatbed truck. It was the perfect solution.

The vehicles lined up at J.W. Jones Hall. As we left the parking lot and proceeded north on Route 36 and Spring Street, our music was flapping uncontrollably on our folios. The trucks were going so fast! When we reached Mumford and started the return trip on North Street, they settled into a slower pace much better for us.

Since we haven't played for so long, some of us had amusing anecdotes to tell about looking for our instruments, or music, or other accessories. Earlier this year, Maria had taken her saxophone for repairs, and she had emptied the case of all unnecessary accessories. When she opened her case, the lyre was missing. Fortunately, Steve had an extra one. Some people recounted how they were looking for their Christmas music, not realizing that it was still in their pouches because we haven't played since last Christmas.

Another result of not playing this year is that some of us didn't have the lips or the legs to march a four-mile parade. Normally, we would have been doing one or two events each week all summer and our lips and legs would be at their strongest. Not this year. This was a four-mile route, comparable to the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto. If we had marched, we would have been on the street for about one and a half hours. That's a long time to march and play. Riding on the flatbed truck cut the time down to about 35 minutes, which was much more reasonable under the circumstances.

We had a few guests. Dennis and LouAnn played with us for the first time, and Ford doesn't play with us very often. All three of them play in the LeRoy Town Band - another band that hasn't played all year - along with several members of Kelley's Heroes, so we all know each other. They were just eager to have an opportunity to play.

For woodwinds, we had Tracey on piccolo and LouAnn on flute; Karen R. on clarinet, Steve and Margaret on alto saxophone, Maria on tenor saxophone. For brass, we had Bob and Ford on trumpet, Dennis on trombone and Josh on sousaphone. People came from Churchville, Bergen, Batavia, and Farmington.

As Josh said, it felt so good to play together, and even better to play in front of people. With a vaccine for the coronavirus coming soon, we can only hope that there will be more events to play together in front of people in 2021.

by Maria on March 20th, 2020

Normally, my blog entries are written after events. I summarize the weather, the music and the attendance. I introduce new members and write about what went well, what caught us off guard and what made us laugh.

Unfortunately, this marching season has been anything but normal. Last weekend, we were booked to march two St. Patrick's Day parades: Saturday in Rochester and Sunday in Buffalo.
Thursday afternoon, we got word that the Rochester parade was canceled; shortly after, we heard that the Buffalo parade was canceled. Suddenly, a very busy weekend became a very empty weekend.

Why? Cases of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, were growing at an alarming rate. The Federal Government issued guidelines recommending that gatherings of people be limited to 500. If you think about all the places you go during the course of a week, that would be a pretty generous number. However, these parades attract thousands of people who stand close together to watch the parades and stand shoulder to shoulder in crowded bars to celebrate and socialize before and after the parade.

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to grow, the Federal Government lowered the gatherings number to 250, then 50, then 10. More cancellations were announced: Honor Flight in April and the Lilac Festival in May.

These are just the events that affect Kelley's Heroes Marching Band. Hundreds of other events that affect millions of people have been canceled or postponed: high school classes, musicals, proms and sports events; college classes and graduations; church services and weddings; professional sports and entertainment; conferences and festivals. Stores are closed, workers are laid off. We know this must be a dire situation because the New York State Education Department canceled end-of-the-year standardized testing, the IRS extended the April 15 tax filing date by 90 days, and Disney closed its theme parks.

No one knows when it will be safe to gather in large crowds again. Estimates range from four weeks to four months. In the meantime, most people are staying home. Technology makes it possible for many to work or learn from home. Some of us are catching up on all those projects we never seem to have time to do. Others are trying new things: books, recipes and hobbies.

Are these changes temporary or permanent? When we can finally gather again in large groups, will people choose to return to their former activities - like marching band - or will they prefer to fill that time pursuing their new activities? We'll have to wait and see.

by Maria on December 10th, 2019

The temperature was just above freezing, and it was mostly cloudy with a few breaks of sunshine. In Western NY, this is considered good weather for December, so there was a big crowd, especially in the stretch between the monument and the fire hall.

In keeping with our tradition, we marched 360 degrees around the monument, but breaking tradition, we went clockwise this year. Just  as we were coming out of the circle, Mel appeared. We were marching in rows of three, but the flute/clarinet row made room for her to make one row of four.

Usually, we are near the end of the parade in front of Santa, but this year we were closer to the front. When we reached the fire hall, we continued playing as though we were on the street.

We welcomed Jason, a new trumpet player. Many of already know Jason through other bands. We have been working on him for a couple of years to join Kelley's Heroes, and we finally succeeded. He stood out as the man in black.

Pam stopped by to see us, She was there with her granddaughter. Pam played clarinet with Kelley's Heroes for many years but had to take a break. We hope she'll march again soon. Stephanie had a craft table inside the fire hall. She came out to see us while we were playing out front. If we had cymbals, she would have played with us, but they were in Steve's truck back on Maple Street.

For color guard, we had Bob K. and Dennis carrying the banner. For woodwinds, we had Tara on flute; Mel, Kelly and Karen on clarinet; Steve on alto sax; Jack and Maria on tenor sax. For brass, we had Tom J., Bob and Jason on trumpet; Scott M. on trombone; Don H. on helicon (sousaphone); For percussion, we had Don S. on snare drum; Jon and Kristen on bass drum; Andy on cymbals.

This is our last parade of 2019. We'll be back in 2020 starting with the Rochester St. Patrick's Day Parade. See you there!

by Maria on November 27th, 2019


Six years ago, Kelley's Heroes launched a series of Christmas ornaments. The first featured instrument was the valve trombone, the second was the bass drum, and the third was the snare drum. The fourth ornament celebrated our 25th anniversary and featured the sousaphone. The fifth featured instrument was the saxophone, and the sixth was the clarinet.

This year's featured instrument is the trumpet. Our trumpet players are Doug, Mike B., Tyler, Matt H., Kayla, Tom J., Bob, Arnie and Scott W.

The trumpet can trace its roots back as far as 1500 BC when its ancestors were used to give signals in battle or during hunting. These early horns were straight or coiled tubes that were limited to notes in the overtone series. To play in different keys, horn players had to add crooks, lengths of additional tubing, to change the pitch of the fundamental.

Valves were introduced in the 1300s, filling in the other notes and making horns more useful to composers. Today trumpets are very useful in almost every kind of ensemble and almost every style of music, especially marching band.
Our founder, Tim Kelley, was a talented trumpet player and a great showman. He would often hold his trumpet up at an angle, the way it is pictured on the ornament, when he was "showing off."

The flat acrylic ornaments are 3" inches in diameter. For a suggested donation of $5, you can start your own collection of Kelley's Heroes ornaments.  If you would like this one or any of the ones from previous years, send us a message by clicking on Contact on the navigation bar at the top of this Web page.


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