The Central Valley High School marching band and color guard are in the middle of a very successful marching season. Last weekend, they performed their show, “Cloaked,” at Joe Albi Stadium and took home trophies for best visual, best music, best drums, best general effect and the grand sweepstakes prize.
This weekend, they are in Eugene, Ore., competing in the University of Oregon Festival of Bands.
But they’re hopeful for something even bigger. The band hopes to bring its talents to a much larger audience, the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., this January.
“(We want to) be a part of something that has only happened 51 times in history,” said Band Director Eric Parker.
There is no guarantee they will perform in the parade. The applications aren’t even being accepted yet, but should be by the end of this month.
Parker said there are many factors that go into the selection of a marching band in the parade. It depends on what the winning candidate – President Barak Obama or former Gov. Mitt Romney – wants to have in the parade. Usually two bands from each state are selected, and Parker thinks CV has a good chance this year, since not many apply from Washington and it has been decades since a band from Eastern Washington has gone. In 2009, Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash., went.
“It just makes sense that it would be our turn,” Parker said.
He said regardless of the uncertainty of the parade itself, the band is going to be in the Washington, D.C., metro area that week for a concert band festival in Baltimore. Planning the trip this way has made it easier, rather than waiting to be accepted. If they had done that, they would have five weeks to plan, raise funds and practice their show before the trip, scheduled Jan. 17-22.
The idea to perform at the inauguration came to them about a year ago, when someone suggested they perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Parker said he sat down with some of the parents and talked about their options. Some parents didn’t like the idea of a trip without an educational component. While they are in the D.C. area, they plan to visit the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial and get tickets to the inauguration, regardless of their participation in the parade. They are also hoping to perform a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
“Anyone who thinks about it will say it’s a great opportunity,” said Nathan Brown, a senior percussionist who plays the tenor drums in marching band.
Caitlin Shirley is a sophomore who plays the mellophone in marching band and the French horn in concert band. She is looking forward to the trip even if they don’t get to be in the parade.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “It’s really one of those once in a lifetime things. It’s a huge honor for us.”
Booster club member Lori Wilson, said she can’t wait for the students to experience the capital.
“A lot of these kids have never been there,” she said. Wilson has been working on the logistics of the trip – how to fly 133 students and about 20 chaperones across the country with all of their luggage and instruments, scheduling field trips, booking hotel rooms and planning.
Each student is responsible for paying $1,200 for the trip. They pay the money up front and whatever they earn in fundraising efforts will be returned to them. Parker is hoping to team up with local businesses to sponsor a student or a section.
Brett Siddoway, a senior trumpet player, said he has been saving money from his summer job at MeadowWood Golf Course to make the trip, as well as participating in fundraising.
The trip is a huge opportunity for everyone in the CV band, but not all of them are going. Some of them would rather use the money to participate in summer music programs or some of them can’t afford to go. Parker said it is important to keep to their usual fall marching band performance schedule instead of canceling trips to save for D.C.
The experiences and opportunities the students get in band are invaluable to them. For those who go, this trip will be just a part of the memories and experiences they will look back on when they are older.
Flute player Melissa Morgan, a junior, said when she tries to persuade her own children or grandchildren to join band, she will talk about this trip and her time in the CV band.
“It’s kind of everything to me right now,” she said.