Marching to the beat of travel

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By Rita J. Egan

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For some, traveling is a hobby and for others, their hobby gets them traveling — something Barry Nathanson knows firsthand. For 15 years, Barry’s love for marching bands and parades has taken him all over the U.S. I recently chatted with Barry, and he told me he would rather go to a parade than a rock concert.

"To me, it's relaxing to stand on the street for 2 hours and watch a parade go by," he said.

The Massachusetts resident estimates that he has seen 10,000 bands perform in the last decade and a half. One of his favorite places to catch bands performing is Walt Disney World in Florida.  And he’s taken in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame Parade in Canton, Ohio and July Fourth parade in Washington, D.C., several times. This year it was the first time he attended the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, and before the end of the year, he hopes for another first — to catch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, New York.

Before he attends a parade, he plans out his visit by doing research online, including checking out the site marching.com, not only for performances and schedules but also tourist spots, good restaurants and golf courses. Recently, while in Roseville, Minnesota for the Rosefest Rose Parade, he stopped by Mall of America. Over the years, while volunteering at the Bands of America Championship event in Indianapolis, Indiana, Barry has found a lot of excellent restaurants.

"I like to find events and turn them into little vacations," said Barry, who works in passenger service for a major airline.

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One of the things that he has discovered is that bands from the Midwest, from places like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, are among the top musicians, and most of them have a following.

"They have a good marching band circuit,” Barry said. “People will go there not to see the high school football games, they go there for the bands."

Barry also admires marching bands in his own state. He follows the University of Massachusetts and Brockton High School bands. For about 10 years, he led a summer marching band, and the group traveled to perform in Walt Disney World as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame Parade.

When he was younger, Barry played percussion but claims he wasn't good enough to join a band. He thinks his love of marching musicians and parades, which developed in his 40's, is his way of reliving his childhood. And, he's not the only one. He said he has met many like him along the way.

"If I had my life to do over I would get my degree in music and run a high school band program,” Barry admitted. “That would be my do-over in life. That's what I do.”

If he had that do-over, with his love for travel, you can be sure he would be taking the band on trips all over the U.S. and performing in some of the top parades in the country.

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