'08 parade march starts

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE, Times Staff Writer
Published August 30, 2007

The unique St. Petersburg-based marching band whose members range from young high school graduates to retirees is gearing up for the opportunity of a lifetime.

The band has been invited to play in the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Though the quintessential American event is more than a year away, the group has already chartered planes, booked hotel rooms and made arrangements for a celebratory postparade Thanksgiving dinner.

Bill Findeison, band co-founder and director, said the ranks of the group - the Greater St. Petersburg Area Awesome Original Second Time Arounders Marching Band - have continued to swell since the spring announcement of the New York City Thanksgiving performance. Former band members, new hopefuls, family and friends all have signed up to travel to New York, Findeison said.

The Macy's invitation is not the band's first to play away from home. It has performed at such venues as Epcot and one year traveled to Dublin for the Irish city's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Locally, the band draws loud cheers as it wends its way along city blocks in St. Petersburg's annual Festival of States parade. Last year, it also performed at the opening ceremony of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Macy's parade, though, is turning out to be a huge draw for the 25-year-old band, whose members include those who travel from Orlando and Miami, pastors, attorneys, doctors, teachers, a St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue lieutenant, and other adults yearning to relive their days as part of a marching band.

"This is the biggest turnout that we've ever had," said Findeison, who co-founded the band in 1983 with then-Festival of States director Herb Melleney.

Orlando Veras, spokesman for the Macy's parade, understands the excitement. The Second Time Arounders band was selected from 500 and will be one of just 10 bands in the parade, he said.

Of the 650 registered to travel to New York, about 100 are national flag pageant carriers. They will march in the parade but will not be part of the televised program. Findeison, 65, a retired Lakewood High School band director and former owner of Bringe Music Center, said space is limited in New York City's Herald Square, where participants will put on a special performance.

The band director said the group is still accepting people for all sections of the Macy's-bound group except for banner and letter carriers.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at 727 892-2283 or moore@sptimes.com.

Fast facts

To join the band

For more details, go to www.secondtimearounders.org.