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The old banner is only a little worse for wear, with colorful patches still vibrant, ribbons flat and decorative feathers still fluffy.

It was unfurled to get the wrinkles out and was ready by Saturday, Nov. 17, to take to the streets of Winslow for participation in the 67th annual Winslow Christmas Parade.

The banner belongs to the Santa Fe All-Indian Marching Band that was enjoying its reunion after a hiatus of 49 years.

In the past few years, the popular Christmas parade has drawn more than 10,000 people from all around the state.

Older members and new recruits gathered in a parking lot before the 1 p.m. start of the parade, which follows a route up Second and Third streets downtown, tracing parts of Historic Route 66.

THREE RAIL MEN STARTED IT

The band was organized in 1923 and disbanded in 1963.

"It was started by three men who were at a picnic in Clear Creek," explained Rosemary Natseway, 73, who is from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico but has lived in Winslow her whole life. "The conductor, I think his name was Charlie, just had a stick and the other two men were shop workers for the Santa Fe Railroad."

Membership included mostly Santa Fe employees and representatives from as many as 12 Native American tribes.

Natseway played clarinet in the band from 1952 to 1959.

Her mother was Louise Siow, who died in 1977, and, when she was younger, was charged with carrying the band banner during performances.

GREAT-GRANDMA CARRIED BANNER

Sisters Vanessa Brierty, 25, and Rebecca Brierty, 23, whose great-grandmother was Siow, traveled from Southern California to carry the banner in the parade this year.

Their great-grandpa, Tony Siow, also played bass drum in the band, they said.

Steven Brierty, 19, their brother, who also lives in Southern California, was playing snare drum as one of the eight band members on the band float during the 2012 parade.

"Originally there were three in the band, and it just built it up from there," Vanessa Brierty said. "After they became a little more popular, they played at the Gallup inter-tribal fair."

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The Winslow parade was the centerpiece of the band reunion, but other events were also fun, including a driving tour around town, a walking tour of the La Pasada Hotel and a public reception in the Grand Ballroom in La Posada.

CORNET, YARDSTICK AND PECKHORN

At the peak of the band's popularity, the group had traveled more than 10,000 miles for performances and even played during President Dwight Eisenhower's inaugural parade.

The reunion of 24 former members of the marching band, who came from all over the country, was organized by Kenn Evans, a ranger at Homolovi State Park and chairman of the city of Winslow's Historic Preservation Commission.

Only highly-qualified musicians, who often had to audition, were accepted in the band through the years. When qualified musicians could not longer be found, the band has disbanded.

David Natseway, 47, is from Albuquerque and traveled to Winslow to play tuba during the parade.

"You know it's funny, we were reading the history of the band and it said the original instruments played were cornet, a yardstick, a peckhorn and old beat-up tuba. It's funny, the tuba they found for me to play is an old beat-up tuba."

Betsey Bruner can be reached at bbruner@azdailysun.com or 556-2255.

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