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While Saturday’s Christmas parade stretched down Village Road, old Leland’s main street, the Navassa Drum and Drill team represented its town as part of the North Brunswick celebration.
The local community group, organized by former members William Alston and Carlton Mosely, gives kids from the small town of 1,900 a chance to perform all around Brunswick County and the surrounding area.
The group is mostly made up of teens who are out of high school, Mosely said, but Alston added they have accepted kids of any age. The group’s purpose is to give them an activity.
“If they can dance or march, they can be a part of it,” Alston said. “Some have been with us since they were 5 or 6.”
The drum and drill team has about 32 kids. About half are dancers and half are drummers.
“The girls mostly want to dance; the boys mostly want to drum,” Alston said.
Alston and Mosely started the group when they were just kids in the 1980’s.
They both left the group when they got into their 20s, but came back to it in the late 1990’s when they decided the community group was still needed.
“We restarted it about 15 years ago and have been keeping it going (since),” Mosely said.
When the group first started, there was no drumming, just drills.
“We started as a regular marching group with a radio. Now we play our own beats,” Alston said.
The organizers bought their first sets of marching drums by having fundraisers, then began receiving support from the town of Navassa as well as other donations.
“(The kids) teach themselves how to play,” Alston said.
Alston said when kids come out to participate, they learn the dances and if they want to start drumming they work their way up, learning on cymbals, snare drums, quad toms and bass drums.
The group is most active around the holidays, when they are invited to participate in several Christmas parades.
“It’s our busiest time of the year,” Alston said. “If they like us, they’ll call us. The more we’re seen, the more they want us to come out.”
On Saturday the group spent the morning performing in the Leland Christmas parade, they drove to Burgaw for a parade that afternoon.
But they stay active throughout the year and hit another busy season in the summer performing at community events like Juneteenth observances and African heritage festivals, the Southport Fourth of July Day parade and their own homecoming parade the second week of July.
The group performed for the Brunswick County Health Department in September and has provided entertainment at baseball games and Halloween festivals
“If anyone is interested in having us perform, contact the town hall. They’ll set it up and we’ll take the kids,” Alston said.
The group will break for the holidays now that most of the annual parades are over, then prepare to perform on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in February, Alston said. He said they would then regroup around March to begin preparing for the summer performances.
For information on the Navassa Drum & Drill team, contact the navassa Town hall at (910) 371-2432.
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.