Forest Park band takes show to Mardi Gras

By Greg Gelpi

Davon "Truck" Nelloms said the only parade he's marched in was the Forest Park Christmas parade, but next Saturday he and about 60 others in the Forest Park High School marching band will be parading through New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

With its high energy sound and dance, the Panther band is ready with "jazzed up arrangements" of Britney Spears, the Ojays and more for Iris, band director Wallace Clark said.

"You think you've seen these guys perform," Nelloms, the drum line section leader, said. "You haven't seen anything."

Crowds give the band an opportunity to "show off" their energy and feed off their energy, he said. "We like to give the crowd what they want."

"The thing we like more than anything is a crowd," Nelloms said. "We like exposure."

Clark pointed to the "energy and spirit" of the band as what sets it apart, adding that the band injects "gusto" into the music, keeping the music "true to life."

"They really want to show what they can do," Clark said. "What they do is play the music of their generation really well."

Forest Park will perform their renditions of Britney Spears, "Backstabbers" by the Ojays and the spirituals "I'm So Glad Jesus Lifted Me" and "Give Me That Old Time Religion" for the parade, using arrangements by Florida A&M's Lindsey Sarjeant, who Clark called the "best in the business."

"It's a good chance to get us well known throughout the band world," junior Jazmine Jenkins, who plays trombone, said.

Jenkins said it will be the first "big" trip in three years.

"This is the most adventurous thing we've done in years," Clark said.

The trip will be the first out of the state for senior Adina Gunder, a member of Forest Park's dance team.

"I wonder how it's going to look," Gunder said, trying to imagine the lights and sounds of a New Orleans Mardi Gras.