By Carole Kelly
Kyler Greco, a Clinton High School (CHS) senior, enjoyed Washington, D.C., on July 4, but it was not for a tour or an Independence Day picnic. As a member of this year’s 145-member Mississippi Lions All-State Band, Greco had the memorable experience of marching in the capital’s Fourth of July Independence Day Parade.
The July 4 Washington march was followed by traveling to Boston to participate in the 105th Lions Club International Convention Parade on July 8. Speaking enthusiastically of his experience, Greco commented, “There was never a dull moment, from the practice sessions to the travel and tours.”
Two rounds of auditions took place last November at Pearl High School and resulted in Greco’s acceptance into the All-State Band, known as one of the premier marching and concert bands in the world.
Intense practice sessions contributed to a challenging week starting June 23 at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville.
“It was all so worth it, no regrets,” he stated. The band’s outstanding performances demonstrated the results of the strenuous eight-day training camp. The band members from throughout the state came together as a unit under the direction of director/manager Jeff Cannon and assistant director/manager Mickey Mangum, who served as band director at CHS several years ago.
“I enjoyed meeting and talking with him,” said Greco, who pointed out that Mangum had taught several of his teachers.
The band performed in concert at Pearl River on June 30, in Kosciusko on July 2, and at Oxford July 2. A wakeup call for 2:30 a.m. to fly out of Memphis to Washington saw the band members, directors and chaperones divided into groups to accommodate transporting of the 175-member entourage, as well as the instruments.
“Some of us leaving on an earlier flight managed to get in a nap before we began further practicing and then touring in Washington,” smiled Greco. The ten-day experience called for traveling by plane, train and bus.
“I met people who had practiced as hard as I had,” he says, adding, “They became not only fellow band members, but also friends and encouragers. The friendships were great, and it was wonderful seeing how beautiful our country is, touring famous sites in Washington and Boston with our amazing tour guides.”
His parents, Marcus and Danielle Greco, were in Washington for the parade, which was probably the hottest and the longest parade route ever.
“Wouldn’t trade it for anything,” declared Kyler.
A part of the percussion instrument world and the Clinton Arrow Band since sixth grade, Greco also plays drums with the Attaché Show Choir and the CHS Jazz Band and is a member of the CHS Student Council.
CHS Band Director Gavin McAdams pointed out the stiff competition involved in being named to the famous Lions Band, with hundreds of students practicing and competing countless hours to prepare.
“Kyler was our only student going on the trip, and he is bringing energy and skills learned back to our band program. We look forward to his future growth, as well as the growth for all our students in the program.”
He congratulated two students who did not make the trip but were selected for the band, Musa Blake, a senior who plays alto and tenor saxophone, and trumpet player Thomas Hathorn, who graduated in May.
Greco says he looks forward to trying out for next year’s All-State Band and the possibility of another fabulous experience. The site for the 2024 Lions International Convention is Melbourne, Australia.
Visit www.MissLionsBand.org to view the band’s Boston march.