Heroes History

May 13, 1992, marked the beginning of the Kelley’s Heroes legacy – the now late Tim Kelley directed thirteen musicians at its first-ever band practice, learning five marching songs. A marching band was formed, then called the Caledonia Fireman’s Band. The band was initially comprised of Tim’s fellow CMCS alumni and local friends. Under Tim’s direction, we marched in eight parades that first year with the Caledonia Fire Department. We continued to march for the Caledonia Fire Department at Fire Department Parades throughout a four-county area for the next nine years.

By our second spring/summer marching season, we marched in or played at more than 25 events. Our member numbers began to grow as our popularity grew. A color guard was created in our second year as well. Guarded American and New York State flags as well as flag wavers led the way for the Caledonia Firemen band’s in most parades. In 1994 we changed our name to Kelley’s Heroes Marching Band due to the fact that we began marching at different types of events (festivals, charities) without a Fire Department marching behind us. The name, Kelley’s Heroes, was “dubbed” by a band member just after we had finished playing the song “Hogan’s Heroes.” The new name just seemed to fit us, and so it came to be – Kelley’s Heroes Marching Band.

A typical busy marching season starts with the Memorial Day Parade in Henrietta (and sometimes as early as St. Patrick’s Day in March) and concludes with the “Super Bowl” of all parades - the Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, Canada. This event is held every year in the middle of November, and is Toronto’s kick-off for the Christmas holiday season. This four-mile Santa Claus Parade attracts 500,000 spectators each year. Kelley’s Heroes has now marched in Toronto for 12 consecutive years, ever since 1992. This parade gives the ‘Heroes’ a chance to play Christmas music for television viewers all over the world.

In 1995 and over the next few years up to the present, Kelley’s Heroes has marched with several additional fire department companies at many different Monroe County Firemen Parades – Spencerport Fire Department, Barnard Fire Department, Hilton Fire Department, Bushnell’s Basin Fire Department and the Chili Fire Department. This additional marching exposure throughout Monroe County has added much to our popularity.

Although consistent with our colors over the years – black, white and red – we have changed uniforms several times. Our very first uniform consisted of black pants, white shirts and red baseball-type caps. Once we were able to save up enough money, we purchased black uniform pants, geometric red/white/black polo shirts and black aussie-style hats for the entire band. We are currently on the third style/version of our polo marching shirts.

Kelley’s Heroes has created and produced two cd’s, both were recorded at "The Studio" at Linden Oaks in Rochester. Our first cd, released in December 1998, is entitled "Kelley's Heroes Favorite Christmas Songs.” Our second cd, released in 2001, is a representation of a successful voyage initiated 12 years ago consisting of our favorite summer parade songs.

On July 2, 2003, Kelley’s Heroes deeply mourned the tragic death of their leader, Tim Kelley. Tim was accidentally electrocuted at home while repairing some pipes at one of his rental properties. Through sheer determination, Kelley’s Heroes banned together to find the strength to continue marching in the parades scheduled throughout the rest of the season, including Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade, without our beloved leader. We knew that Tim would want us to keep on marching.

Twelve years later, with more than 35 band and color guard members and playing more than 60 songs, approximately 25 parades and concerts are performed annually. Members now include a cross section of musicians from all over western New York State. Lifelong friendships have been made since the start of Kelley’s Heroes. No one could have fathomed the highlights and exciting times over this twelve-year span. We’re thankful to all our families and friends for all their support since the inception of Kelley’s Heroes in 1992.

Dubbed the “Crowd Pleasers” by all our spectators, we hope to continue our success in the years to come not only in Tim’s honor, but also for our love of music.

-Kathy Fairbrother