ORANGE CITY, Iowa - The Pride of the Dutchmen Marching Band is losing a key component: band director for 42 years, Steve Connell.
"It's kind of surreal. I've done this so many times, over so many years. I've tried not to think about it being the end. I'm afraid it might be a little too emotional for me," says Mr. Connell.
After being a part of more than 300 parades over the past four decades, his favorite part hasn't been the awards or recognition, but rather the band members he's met along the way.
"Standing next to a large group of kids and feeling the energy that comes off of them. They're so enthusiastic, they're so excited about this. You can't help but feel the excitement yourself," says Connell.
And those he's leaving behind say Mr. Connell has been nothing short of a true friend.
"When other people haven't been so encouraging in my life, Mr. Connell has always said, you know, 'Go after it,' and he's always there for questions or to give me advice," says Marissa Beagy, band member.
Connell may be retiring from this band, but music has a way of sneaking into his life even after this phase is complete.
"My retirement didn't last very long. I was contacted by Northwestern College shortly after I retired and they want me to start an athletic band and eventually a marching band over there, so I'm going to give that a shot," says Connell.
But before he leaves, he has one final message for all band members.
"To love this experience and to enjoy every second of it, every parade because it doesn't last forever."