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Pear Blossom celebration

Saturday's the day for this 'giant social event' in Medford

For Kendra Taylor, being in a marching band is one giant social event.

Everyone's friends in the band, said the North Medford High School senior.

She said it's fun to see enthusiastic kids on the sidelines pointing out the different instruments as they file by.

It's the biggest audience the kids perform in front of all year long, said Steve Thickett, director of bands at North Medford.

— The NMHS band is one of 10 getting in step for Saturday's Pear Blossom Parade.

With more than 150 entries comprising nearly 5,000 people and a slew of animals, the 50th annual parade begins at 11 a.m. on Court Street near McAndrews Road. It travels south to Main Street, then west to Alba Park.

The day kicks off at 7:25 a.m. with the Pear Blossom races, ranging in distance and speed.

Food, crafts and umbrellas (just in case) will be sold at the street fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Alba Park, and the Pyramid Band will play at the Alba Park Gazebo.

The day attracts tens of thousands of residents and visitors each year.

Susan Marcu, a Jackson County 4-H leader, said this is the club's third year in the parade, and its float won first place in the last two.

We have a group of creative minds, she said, adding there will be about 50 participants in fourth through 12th grades from all over the Rogue Valley.

The 4-H float ties into the parade theme, which is Where do we go from here? Proclaiming With 4-H, the sky's the limit, the float will be decorated with clouds and packed with kids representing different careers such as artists, photographers, foresters and congresswomen, said Marcu.

The 4-H club teaches leadership skills, public speaking skills and community service ' all of which help prepare kids for careers, said Marcu. The float will be followed by club members and their dogs, and preceded by club members riding their horses.

One of the benefits to having horses is we get to go in the first half of the parade, she said.

Although this is Thickett's 23rd year in the Pear Blossom, he said he still gets revved by the crowd's enthusiasm.

It always goes by quickly. It's such fun and such great stimulus, he said.

As the drum major, Kendra will keep the beat for the NMHS band.

I'll be leading the way, she said.

Thickett said spectators are bound to see people they know in the parade, which makes it a great draw for community members.

Everybody in the whole Rogue Valley can tap into this parade at some level, he said.

The only downside for the band members is standing at the starting point waiting for the parade to begin, he said.

That and the unpredictable weather.

You never know what the weather's going to do, he said, reciting his mantra for his students: Rain, sleet, slush or snow, we will put on our band show.

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Katie Coupe?s French horn stands out against the morning sun Thursday while she and 35 other North Medford High School freshmen practice staying in step for the Pear Blossom Parade Saturday. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli