Updated: Mar 5, 2020
By Lucila Decia, Staff Reporter
The World Famous Hardin-Simmons University Cowboy Band is preparing as Bill Harden, assistant professor of music and director of bands, finishes polishing the last details for the band’s performance at the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, La. on Feb. 22. The band will represent Hardin-Simmons University and its heritage in a four-day trip to Louisiana, where they will also participate in other events and get to experience what the city has to offer.
New Orleanians call the festival the “Greatest Free Show on Earth.” The Mardi Gras Parade is a spectacular tradition that can be traced to the 17thand 18thcenturies of Medieval Europe celebrated with parades, carnivals and one of the largest crowds in the world at that time.
“The goal of attending this parade is to let students experience going somewhere different, and to bring the Hardin-Simmons University name out there. It is a way of pushing our identity and let people to see what we can do,” Harden said.
Harden also pointed out that the Cowboy Band has an incredible history and they are focused on displaying the heritage each member carries to the public. A large crowd is expected to attend this year’s parade, but that means nothing but excitement for the students and Harden.
“I am nervous because of the large size of the crowd and the parade. But I am excited, and we have been encouraged to build the stamina and get prepared. Overall, I’m pumped for this experience,” said Alyssa Castillo, senior member of the Cowboy Band.
Besides marching through the five and a half mile long parade, the Cowboy Band will also perform at two different locations. Their first performance will be at amphitheater at Washington Artillery Park, earlier in the day on Feb. 22. On Feb. 23, the HSU Cowboy Band will perform on the dock as people board the Steamship Natchez that sails through the Mississippi River. Besides the performances, students can also enjoy visiting many touristic and attractive places around the city, like the World War II Museum or Mulate’s Cajun Restaurant.
Students are dedicated to preparing for this significant event, which means putting an extra effort on working towards physical and mental health, as well as extra hours for rehearsal.
“I am feeling excited because the band is starting to travel again. I have been preparing mentally and physically for this. The hardest part is knowing how to put on a show, even though one may feel tired or overwhelmed,” said Karen Prud’homme, senior member of the Cowboy Band.
“I am nervous because of the Mardi Gras Parade. It has a reputation, but I am excited to see the culture, the music and the food of the area. I want to see how we can embrace the culture of the region. For the preparation, I am trying to focus on my health first. I trust that the adrenaline and the fun will boost us,” said Richie Diaz, sophomore member of the Cowboy Band.
Harden has made some minor changes on the marching style because of the long distance. Nevertheless, the Cowboy Band remains faithful to its origins and is looking forward to expanding their well-known reputation outside Texas.
“The Cowboy Band is different from any other school band. We march different and we do things that people have never seen before. That is why they love us. There is a lot of enthusiasm from the audience when we march because we are a fun show, so we get so much energy from the crowd. This is probably the biggest crowd we have ever seen,” Harden said.