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New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Meet the James Hillhouse High School band

All Things Irish

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Dozens of marching units take part in the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day parade coming up on Sunday.  Meet one of the most fantastic acts: the James Hillhouse High School Band!

18-year-old Anisha Santiago has a march that’s been practiced and perfected!

“Yes, all summer. You got drum major training for two weeks,” says this high school senior, who keeps the band in line literally and figuratively, as she gives direction. “You’ve got to be confident in what you know. You can’t hesitate on your own decision. Once you say it, you say it, that’s it!”

But they don’t need much discipline!  After all, these musicians love music!

“I’ve played the tenor saxophone for six years now,” says 18-year-old junior Octavis Covington. “I joined because I’ve had a passion for music ever since I was 10.”

“You get to express yourself in a way not everyone can because not everyone can play an instrument it’s a gift almost,” says Santiago.

They also enjoy being part of a group that’s highly respected in New Haven and beyond.

“They’re probably one of the most sought after marching bands in the area,” says Marissa Iezzi, Band Director.  “I think a lot of it has to do with their energy and their excitement for performing. They love when people are cheering for them, they love the music they play.”

These guys are busy.  They play at Hillhouse events, Yale sports games and parades – of course, the New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade!

“This is probably the biggest parade that we do that has the most people, is the most congested,” says Iezzi. “So, we try to make sure that we look good and sound good!”

“I think the big crowd is what everyone lives for,” says Covington. “Once you go to that parade, you see everyone. It gets you hyped and you get to give them back all that energy while you’re playing.”

Santiago is dreaming big: “Once I came to Hillhouse, I got a taste for that show style and I fell in love. I want this as my career!  I want to be a band director now.”

But first, she’ll focus on Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“This will be my last one.  So, I’m hoping I’ll do great!” says Santiago.

News 8 is your home for All Things Irish.  Tune into our live special coverage of the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 11th.  Coverage begins at 1 p.m. on News 8.

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