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Hobo Band of Pitman
May Help You Lose Weight

Sunday, March 2, 2008

By Bob Shryock

The Hobo Band of Pitman, known for entertaining many thousands at parades and concerts in rag-tag clothing for 62 years, may have a new mission. If their hectic 2007 parade schedule is a barometer, there's a chance the marching band may help you lose weight, according to business manager Alan Weinstein.

Huh? Lose weight?

Although its '07 concert slate was pared down a little, the Hobos marched in 23 parades, which long-time member Weinstein thinks could be a one-year record for the popular organization which has toured Europe.

And since there aren't many Hobos who qualify to be contestants on NBC's reality show "The Biggest Loser," Weinstein wonders if there could be a correlation between marching and weight loss.

The 23 parades equate to well over 50 miles of marching, often in hot, humid weather. That's not a lot for a triathlete, but not too shabby for members of a post-college band who may not dine on Lean Cuisines.

"We're trying to recruit new members, young blood and fresh blood, including people who haven't played for a while," Weinstein explains.

So why not recruit a few tuba players who can't keep a New Year's diet resolution?

Hobos are usually pretty trim, right?

Weinstein and Sig Johnson, another longstanding Hobo, had the weighty discussion after a Salem Christmas parade.

The band is doing well, by the way, despite the need for new blood. There are nearly 60 on the roster and the nucleus is a solid 30-plus, most of whom can be counted on for parade and concert gigs. At parades, the turnout is usually in the mid-20s. Most celebrated parade marcher is the venerable Ralph Miller, last of the original Hobos still active. He's pushed along parade routes in his wheelchair by Judy Ryder.

One of the few community bands which has its own hall (on Lambs Road), the Hobos still conduct open rehearsals every Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. After a six-month trial/audition period, newcomers are evaluated by their section leader and director. Band members hail from all over South Jersey as far away as Cape May.

Those who want to play music, and possibly shed a pound or two, can access the band online at

Copyright (C) 2008 Gloucester County Times.
Reprinted with Permission