Longtime Band Director retires after 42 years
ORANGE CITY, IA —
Well pride in its heritage isn't the only thing Orange Citians are proud.
They're also proud of its high school's marching band.
A lot in part, thanks to its director, who will be leading the band in the parade here, for the last time.
42 years ago, for Steve Connell, it began with a couple of questions.
"What could happen in a small town, in Iowa, in a small school? How far could we go?"
At that time, he became the new band director for MOC-Floyd Valley's Marching Band, a small school of a little over 400 kids.
“Really I wanted to be a football coach. I love football and I love playing football and for some reason I had a better time in band than I did playing football in high school, my senior year," said Connell
So after graduating college, he decided to take the job in Orange City.
And over the span of 40 years, his marching bands have gone all around the country, performing in bowl games, as well as Monday Night Football.
"Stand down on the field and Dion Sanders comes up to you and says hi, that's kind of cool."
And some parades that are pretty well known.
"The blimps, the helicopters, the millions of people on the parade route, that is truly unique, something I'll never forget."
But after more than four decades leading this group, this year, is his final year at the helm of this popular northwestern Iowa marching band.
"I feel it's time for someone else to do the job. I have had a great opportunity over the past 6 years to have a couple of individuals, young guys, come out of college."
But for Connell, the thing he will miss, will not be the big parades, but the one closest to home.
"I haven't missed a Tulip Festival in 42 years. It's something that I haven't thought about, I don't want to think about. I'm sure when I'm marching the last time my mind will be flooded with memories."
And to make it even better, for his last parade as the director, it's expected that hundreds of alumni will return to march with him.
"The fact that they're coming back my last year is very gratifying to me. But I really want to believe that it's the band, that's the reason they're coming back."
And that's the type of person Connell is. Someone who would rather talk about the band, than himself.
"I wished that all of them would get the spotlight put on them more. Maybe that's was really the reason why I liked going to the big parades, because the spotlight was on them. Whether I was in the camera shot made no difference to me, the kids in the band were in the camera shot and they were the ones getting the spotlight on them."
Connell isn't going too far though, just about two hours after announcing his retirement, he was asked to help start the pep band just down the road at Northwestern College.