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    Danvers band steps up Fifth Avenue

    The Danvers High School band marches along Fifth Avenue in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday.
    Kevin McCormick/
    The Danvers High School band marches along Fifth Avenue in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday.

    NEW YORK — The Danvers High School band marched up Fifth Avenue on Saturday in New York City’s 252d annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

    The 160-member band played “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” the Celtic-sounding anthem by Boston’s Dropkick Murphys, in a grand march that passed St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    The color guard twirled green flags, at times in snow flurries that fell upon the thousands of marchers. The band wore its traditional white-and-blue uniforms, but sousaphone players donned green berets for the day.


    “I’m so excited,” said junior Collin Butler, 16, positioning his sousaphone as the band arrived at a staging area on Sixth Avenue. “The adrenaline is already going.”

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    Ashley Osborne, a senior alto saxophone player, took time to help eighth-grader Emily Nestor, 13, tuck her hair neatly beneath her silver-trimmed helmet topped with a white plume.

    “We can’t have any hair showing,” Osborne said.

    “This is my first big parade,” Nestor said, smiling through silver braces. “I was in the Topsfield Fair parade [last fall] but that’s a really small parade compared to this one.”

    The Falcons marched behind a contingent of thousands of New York firefighters, and just ahead of the high school band from Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 26 elementary school teachers and children in December.


    The appearance marked the 10th anniversary of the Falcons’ first march in the grand parade that draws thousands of revelers. The band’s other notable appearances include three visits to the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., and the 70th observance of Pearl Harbor Day in Hawaii.

    This year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade marked a milestone for band director Ron Parsons. On June 16, Parsons was seriously injured when he fell off the roof of his home. He is still undergoing physical therapy. On Saturday, Parsons sported a shamrock tie and used a cane to lead the Falcons up Fifth Avenue.

    “This one is special for me,” Parsons said.

    Kathy McCabe can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @globekmccabe.