Luke Contreras is a junior political science and communications major. He is a drum leader of the CSU marching band, and this will be his third year performing in the Parade of Lights. He is one of three drum leaders who act as conductors and leaders for the marching band. He has been involved in marching band for seven years.
Have you ever been in the Parade of Lights?
Iâ€™ve been in the Parade of Lights, but only when I have been with the CSU marching band my freshmen and sophomore year.
Are you from Colorado, and did you ever watch the parade as a kid?
Iâ€™m from Colorado Springs, and I would watch it on TV. I always wanted to see it in real life as a kid. The first time I got to see it in real life, it was my freshmen year when I was in it. It was kind of a cool mix.
So whatâ€™s it like being in the Parade of Lights?
Being in the parade is a total blast. You get to wave at people, represent CSU. Also, getting to be the lead-off band, we get to be part of the countdown. And you kind of get the holiday spirit going right then and there.
Whatâ€™s the atmosphere like at the Parade of Lights?
For being how cold it is outside, itâ€™s super warm and super exciting with all the people around. We get to march through the skyscrapers in Denver. People hang out on their balconies, and during commercials we get to high five kids. Itâ€™s kind of a long parade, but you donâ€™t really notice the length.
How long have you been involved with marching band?
Itâ€™s my seventh year. I spent four years in high school. This is my third year at CSU.
Where does the Parade of Lights rank in the parades a marching band can be in?
The Parade of Lights is a super high achievement. I rank it up there with Showdown. I would say itâ€™s one of the favorite events I have ever done. I love it, and Iâ€™m excited for Friday.
So whatâ€™s the preparation like for this event?
We picked a song â€“â€“ our song this year is â€œWinter Wonderland.â€ Last night we put up lights around our practice field and practiced for an hour and a half. Weâ€™ve probably put in a good total of six or seven hours pracitce for the Parade of Lights this year.
What do you think CSU musicians bring to the parade?
CSU brings the initial excitement and pride for the university. CAM walks behind us. CSU President Tony Frank is there. Weâ€™ve even had CU fans in their sweaters come and tell us how good weâ€™ve done.
What place does the parade play in Colorado holiday tradition?
Itâ€™s one of the top events. Itâ€™s a huge kickoff for the holiday season; I would say itâ€™s probably No. 1. I have friends and family who live across the state that try to get out here for one of the nights. Itâ€™s huge for the Colorado holiday season.
How would you describe the parade to someone who has never seen it?
Itâ€™s an awesome experience. Itâ€™s this huge, lighted extravaganza. About 10 to 12 marching bands all decked out in lights. Itâ€™s kind of like a little kidâ€™s Christmas dream: a lot of laughs and a lot of smiles.
Did you ever see yourself being a part of the Parade of Lights?
I always kind of wish I did. Colorado Springs has smaller parade, and I always thought it would be really cool to do it. When we got to deck ourselves out it was a cool realization. I got to do something Iâ€™ve wanted to do since I was a kid and get little kids excited and get Colorado excited.