Steamboat Springs It’s only his third year as band director at Steamboat Springs High School, but Jim Knapp understands the importance of the Ski Band kicking off the annual Winter Carnival parade down Lincoln Avenue.
“It’s an honor to do it, and it’s a legacy you want to preserve and do well each year,” Knapp said.
The Ski Band has performed during the Winter Carnival, now in its 97th year, since 1935 when it was first suggested that the high school band strap on skis to lead the parade down Steamboat’s main, snow-covered drag.
Knapp said the Ski Band sets the tone for the parade, and the two-song performance — which includes the “Anchors Away” school song — gets the crowd into the spirit.
Knapp said the band students have an appreciation of the Ski Band’s role in the Winter Carnival. He said what used to be a burden for the students is now something they’re proud to be a part of. After all, Knapp said, there are only a few parades during which the band can perform.
Knapp said it also helps that the Ski Band got new uniforms last year. For the second year in a row, the Ski Band won’t be dusting off more than 30-year-old duds.
The 50 band members will again sport the ski jackets provided by BAP and cowboy hats from F.M. Light & Sons. Knapp said they’re more reflective of Steamboat’s Western and ski history than the old uniforms were.
In the couple of weeks leading up to the parade, the Ski Band will learn a new song — it’s usually a popular rock ’n’ roll tune — in addition to “Anchors Away.” When he’s satisfied the students have memorized the song, they’ll start practicing the technical aspects of their performance.
First, they’ll march in skis indoors, leading up to a couple of dry runs in the days before the parade. Knapp said most of the students are familiar with skiing or snowboarding but that marching in skis while playing an instrument is difficult.
But it’s all worth it.
“When I first got here, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Knapp said. “I’m really proud to be a part of the tradition. Every year we go out and hope to uphold that tradition and make Steamboat proud.”