Potholes threaten marching bands

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Norway’s long and cold winter this year has left streets all over the country full of potholes and asphalt that’s buckled up. The situation is so bad in some places that it’s raising concerns for marching bands tuning up for parades on the 17th of May holiday.

Children and many others out marching in parades on the 17th of May may need to watch their step because of road damage after a long winter. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“We’re afraid some people will be injured,” Finn Forsberg, who’s played in musical corps for nearly 50 years, told state broadcaster NRK. He now leads a children’s marching band in the southern city of Skien, where the main street called Torggata is now full of hazards created by the winter’s snow, ice and shifting temperatures.

“The worst that can happen is if children stumble in the potholes. If the instruments hit the ground first, it can quickly crack a tooth or two.” Forsberg also noted that the instruments themselves cost thousands of kroner and can be damaged.

The national federation for brass bands and other drum and bugle corps, Norges Musikkorps Forbund, is trying to remain optimistic that repairs can be made in the most critical areas. “There’s a lot that the musicians have to be thinking about (while playing and marching), so it clearly becomes more difficult if you need to also watch where you put your feet,” Finn Arne Dahl Hansen of the federation’s southern region told NRK.

Hansen said he hadn’t yet detected “any collective concerns about this,” but added that it’s much easier to march on smooth streets. “We all want good streets and roads, because that results in extra good music,” Hansen said.

With snow falling as late as a week ago in some areas, local officials haven’t been able to repave streets or make other repairs. “We normally get a lot done before the 17th of May, but this year there are delays because of the late winter,” said Bjarne Skauen, a senior engineer in the City of Skien’s operations department.

He said city authorities are well aware that many local roads are “ugly and damaged” after some tough winter months. “But we’re already working on filling potholes,” Skauen told NRK. “Then we’ll go over the entire parade route and make sure the streets are fixed by the 17th of May. I understand that some of the band members are worried, but this will go well.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund