(COVINGTON, La.) – Whether it is going out and screaming to the top of your lungs until you can’t talk anymore or relaxing with friends and family on the neutral ground, Mardi Gras is a time when bands, students, and crowds have the time of their lives. Mardi Gras is an important time for the St. Paul’s Marching Wolves, who march with the Krewes of Eve, Olympia, Carrollton, Hermes, Endymion, and Bacchus for a total of about 28 miles, which is more than the length of a marathon, all while dancing and carrying instruments. The Marching Wolves performed at the Endymion Den expo on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015.
The student body, as a whole, thoroughly enjoys parade season and turns out in big numbers to enjoy the festivities. The majority of St. Paul’s students’ favorite parades include north shore parades Eve and Olympia, because of the ability to interact with friends in a local setting, and Endymion and Bacchus, because of the grandeur of those parades and the throws.
Marching Wolf Nick Ashton’s favorite parade is Endymion. The crowds are “insane” for that parade, said Ashton, and they respond very well to the Marching Wolves. Endymion, to Ashton, is the pinnacle of Mardi Gras. Even though the route is the same as other parades, and the perspective doesn’t change much on his end, Endymion always brings a certain energy that he considers “so unique.”
The way that the Marching Wolves perform is also unique for a marching band, and they have a distinct style and flavor that the crowds love.
“That’s something that many bands never get to know; I even read in (a Times Picayune) article that one band director didn’t do parades because the band enjoyed them, but for the money. The Marching Wolves live for parades, in contrast,” Ashton said.
According to Ashton, the band’s biggest local rival during Mardi Gras is Covington High. When the Marching Wolves and Marching Lions are in the same zip code, the rivalry is palpable. They don’t march in any south shore parades with the Marching Wolves, but the north shore parades are always a heated atmosphere.
“Eve is where we compete (against each other) for first place band in the parade,” Ashton said.
Just like the rest of the band, Ashton has to play well throughout the whole length of each parade to help the Marching Wolves win first place. Unlike most bands that typically play a simple “parade beat” for most of the parade, only performing occasionally, the SPS drum line plays the cadences the whole way through each parade for the band to dance to, meaning the Marching Wolves have a big weight on their shoulders in more ways than one.
“One of the hardest things for me as a quad drum player is the weight of the instrument. It comes in at
about 35 pounds, and all of that weight is at my waist, so it’s not like other heavy instruments,” Ashton said.
But for the Marching Wolves, the aching backs, split lips, and blisters are worth the effort.
“The reactions, especially in Endymion and Bacchus, give me chills that make the whole year of practice and playing worth it,” Ashton said.