Archive for Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Leonard to sing national anthem

October 16, 2002

Last year it silenced a crowd of thousands.

For the first time in the history of the Maple Leaf Festival, the Star Spangled Banner was sung before the grand parade.

"It was such a wow," Sharole Prahl, Maple Leaf Committee chair, said. "They could just hear the silence in the crowd roll down the street."

Because of its success last year, the national anthem will be sung again this year at 11 a.m., just before the start of the grand parade, by Jocelyn Leonard, who had the honor of singing it the first time.

"It really is an honor," said Leonard, the Baldwin Elementary School music teacher. "A lot of people sing extremely well in this town, so to be chosen is an honor."

She said last year's signing of the national anthem was special for all involved. There's also no doubt that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which were still fresh in everyone's minds when she sang the national anthem, played a role.

"I think it affected the entire mood of the parade. People were more appreciative of all the people in the parade," she said. "People were just prouder."

She hopes the Star Spangled Banner catches some of the same spirit this year.

"It probably won't be the same as last year, but it will be a mood setter," she said.

Prahl said the American Legion will have flags placed along Eighth and High streets during the Maple Leaf Festival.

"There will be plenty of flags to focus on," she said.

Both Leonard and Prahl hope the singing of the national anthem at the Maple Leaf Festival becomes a yearly event.

"I think anytime we can do anything like that, we should," Prahl said.

"I think it's part of our history. I think it's a tradition we need to continue," Leonard said. "It sets the tone for our festival."

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