Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Band Will Go National Fletcher Invited to Fiesta Bowl Parade

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Band Will Go National Fletcher Invited to Fiesta Bowl Parade

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie FitzRoy, Shorelines staff writer

About 150 members of Fletcher High School's band practiced in the summer heat this week to get ready to perform this winter before millions of people in a national TV audience.

The Marching Senators were chosen as one of 16 bands in the United States to perform at the Fiesta Bowl parade in Phoenix on Dec. 31, and to compete in the National Band Championships in Bank One Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks.

"This is an awesome, awesome opportunity for our kids," said Band Booster President Julie Lucas. "They are talented, disciplined and hard-working. . . . This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them."

The band has a challenge, however. It will cost $200,000 for the entire band to go -- about $1,000 per student, including the expenses for chaperones, and it's important that everyone go.

"Because it's a competition, it's vital that each child attend," said Lucas. "Everybody has a role, everybody has a position. Everybody is so important to the success of our show."

Band organizers realize that many, if not most, of the band members will not be able to afford the trip on their own. So they have begun a five-month fund-raising program. They don't want to leave anyone behind.

"Here we have an opportunity in a positive way to put Jacksonville on the map with our kids," said Larry Shealy, president of the Fletcher 12th Man Club, a booster club for the football team, who is leading the fund-raising efforts for the band's special trip. "It's something the whole community is really jumping behind."

The campaign has already begun. Twelve committees have formed to organize golf tournaments, corporate challenges, raffles, garage sales, car washes and a celebrity dinner. They need to raise the money by the end of November.

Band parent Julie Anderson was helping out at the band's weeklong camp this week. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., musicians and color guard members marched around the school, practicing new songs that are part of this year's show, Carmen, and counting out the steps that will form the show.

Anderson watched as her son, Taylor, and fellow band members drilled the same moves over and over under the direction of band director Paul Pippin.

"That's why the fund-raising is so important," Anderson said. "If they don't all go, they'll have holes in the field. They count on one another to line up. We are very ardent about raising this money."

Last weekend, the kids held a community car wash and sold hotdogs at a nearby hardware store. On Aug. 6, they will have a spaghetti supper at American Legion Post 316 in Atlantic Beach.

"The kids are doing as much as they possibly can," Anderson said.

Fletcher's football coach and athletic director, Joe Reynolds, is also helping the band by donating all funds earned from souvenirs and giving them space to sell advertising in the football programs. …

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