Top of the Morning, July 6, 2014

A regular treat of Champaign's annual July 4 parade, which rolled through town on Friday, is seeing the Centennial marching band perform.

"Centennial has been a part of that parade for decades — as long as I've been aware of the Centennial band," Centennial band director Michael Allen said.

Allen is a Centralia native and UI graduate who's been teaching for 16 years, the last eight at Centennial. The July 4 parade is just one of the many highlights of the band's yearly schedule.

"It feels great to be a part of something so big and such an important part of the community, the Fourth of July parade," he said. "The kids are really excited to be involved with it, too. It really inspires them to see so many thousands of people and that they're a part of such an event."

If you missed the Chargers on Friday, there will be other opportunities to see their act. In addition to taking the field on Friday nights during football season, they'll be a part of the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival in late August as well as the Labor Day parade.

Two weeks of band camp, beginning July 21, will prepare them for the busy schedule.

Friday's performance was a bittersweet one, though. It was the last gig with the Chargers for Allen's assistant director, Stacey Peterick, who resigned to take a new job as the elementary band director in Urbana.

"She's been a huge part of the program," Allen said. "She's been involved with every aspect of the program from jazz to marching to concert, small ensemble. We're going to miss her."

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