Litchfield band

Litchfield High School marching band parades west on Third Street during the Memorial Day parade. The band steps off on a new season Sunday at Albertville.

Marching band is back.

After a pandemic-forced hiatus last summer, the Litchfield High School marching band will hit parade routes throughout Minnesota this summer.

It all starts — unofficially — with the traditional Sneak Peek performance Thursday on 10th Street in front of Litchfield High School.

“I’m experiencing the same thing that I think most people are experiencing,” director David Ceasar said. “We got a long break, and it was really kind of nice. But I’m glad to be back, too.”

With last season lost to COVID-19, Ceasar said, the band had a lot of catching up to do. They’ve attempted to do that with extra rehearsals over the past couple of weeks, and there’s more to go this week with band camp set for Wednesday through Friday.

“The kids are working really hard,” Ceasar said. “We intentionally planned a lot of rehearsals. We have had more this year than we usually do, because we knew we had to catch up.”

This year’s show is “Eternal Egypt,” with the band playing the song “Ouroboros.” Ouroboros is the Egyptian symbol for eternity.

While the band has two grades’ worth of new marchers this year, the early morning and evening practices have made a big difference in their preparedness, according to Ceasar. And even though band camp won’t be quite what it usually is — band members will go home at the end of each day rather than staying overnight at the school — it will provide two and a half full days of rehearsal for even more fine tuning.

“We’ve already run our show through a number of times,” Ceasar said. “Now, it’s building confidence … the little things. What do you look like when you’re moving down the street? It’s all a matter of confidence at this point.

“We’re going to get there,” he added. “I’m not worried. I think it’s going to be just fine.”

The band’s first parade of the season will be Sunday at Albertville — the start of a seven-parades-in-nine-days run, which includes the Litchfield Parade of Bands on Tuesday.

Parades will be a bit different this year, too, with less emphasis on competition and more on the art of marching band, Ceasar said.

That change in scope comes as an answer to last summer’s lost marching season. High school bands still will be scored and critiqued by judges, but the awards ceremonies with announcement of placings in each class at a parade will not happen. Many parades still will award a “grand champion” of some type, Ceasar said, but the rankings will not be announced. Instead, directors will receive only their own band’s scores and critiques.

“I was kind of bummed at first,” Ceasar said of the change. “I felt like I did the best I could over COVID to prepare these kids and I felt like COVID did take a hit out of everybody. We did everything we could to stay on track for the season.

“But there’s something to be said for just enjoying it as art instead of making it 100 percent about bringing home a trophy,” he added.