The Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band once again led members of the Stony Brook University and State University of New York (SUNY) communities at the triumphant return of the NYC Pride March on Sunday, June 26.
Director of Bands Justin Stolarik said 45 SBU students were joined by musicians from other SUNY bands in leading the “SUNY Pride” float at the march, and that they “were very excited to be back in person this year.” The band’s repertoire included “Born This Way” (Lady Gaga), “Boys” (Charli XCX), “Dancing Queen” (ABBA), “We Are Family” (Sister Sledge), and “YMCA” (Village People).
The 52nd annual march was first held in 1970, but was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited to mostly virtual events last year. The event returned to its former glory with thousands of people lining Manhattan streets amid a panalopy of pride colors and rainbow flags.
The Spirit of Stony Brook attended PrideFest in Summer 2021 in lieu of the canceled march, and in 2020 were part of the Virtual SUNY Pride Band.
Drum major Yajvin Dabbiru said the energy of the event was unlike any other event the marching band attends. “To a majority of the students in the band, it meant a lot to be able to perform in such a well-known event that fosters the idea of being proud of who we are,” Dabbiru said, adding that this was the first opportunity for him and many of the band members to participate. “For nearly three years, I’ve heard all about the successes of the parade, so my expectations for this year could not be higher, and they were thoroughly exceeded. Seeing the hundreds of thousands of people dancing and enjoying the music we performed during the parade made all the hard work we put forth more enjoyable.”
The NYC Pride March has become an annual civil rights demonstration which, over the years, has broadened to include recognition of the fight against AIDS and to remember those lost to illness, violence and neglect.