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Marching to Her Own Drummer, A Tribute to Marie Graham

Members of the Long Lake Ladies Kazoo Band entertain for the public during the 2011 Memorial Day festivities in Long Lake.

Members of the Long Lake Ladies Kazoo Band entertain for the public during the 2011 Memorial Day festivities in Long Lake. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Long Lake is the heart of the Adirondacks. Marie Graham is the heart and soul of its iconic Ladies Kazoo Band.

For more than 40 years, the dedicated and stalwart Marie Graham has almost single-handedly taken her band from Rt. 28 in Long Lake to New York City’s Halloween Parade, to the Mummer’s Parade in Philly, to the Desert Storm parade in Washington, D.C. and to many other major venues.

I first saw the band practicing in back of the Central School in Long Lake and thought “Oh, what fun.”

I then asked Marie if I could join, although I was only a summer resident. She said, “Welcome. You are now an official member of the Long Lake Kazoo Band.”

A week later, I was doing dock-to-dock serenades on Raquette Lake with Randy, the school’s band director, as the leader. It was then that I learned that the band began when the school had to make a choice about having an athletic team or a band. There were not enough students in the school for both. The students decided on a team and the parents decided to form their own kazoo band to support the students.

No one wants to admit to the choice of red overalls for the band uniform. There is nothing worse than undoing this uniform when there is a need for a lavatory break when on tour. Everyone does, however, like the white hats with two Long Lake black bears on the side. For winter, the satin white jackets are also a hit.

Throughout a multitude of transitions, Marie has never missed a step. She continually found us new leaders. We even had the TV Romper Room lady for a while. As the group got older, she also got us pick up trucks to take us up the hills. When guests came for a weekend, they were invited to join our group as marchers, drivers, or banner carriers. Marie always found enough uniforms for everyone.

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