Cary High School’s Marching Band will be taking its routine a little further than the football field this fall. They’re taking it all the way to the Big Apple.
The band was selected last year as one of 10 high school bands to perform in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since then, they’ve been working tirelessly to raise the $250,000 necessary to get to New York City.
Matt Minick, the band’s director, said performing in the parade is an opportunity of a lifetime for the students, and for himself.
“For me it’s a bucket list thing, you know?” he said. “The kids are excited, they have no idea how big a deal it is until they’re there, and there’s like a million people on the streets.”
Since last fall, the band has raised around $15,800. A fundraising campaign called “Earn Your Green” was created where each section of the marching band competes to see who can raise the most money. The campaign has raised $15,300. The trumpet section is in the lead by raising $3,587.
“It helped them take ownership,” Minick said. “They found that they had fun doing it as well.”
Kris Loomis, who has a student in the band and is the band booster club’s corresponding secretary, said on top of raising money to get to New York, the band also has to raise the traditional money required to operate. The band works at school venue events, and because of the impending parade performance, many more parents have started to volunteer.
“A lot more parents have gotten involved in volunteering,” she said. “Because the more parents who work, the more money comes into the general fund.”
Loomis said during Christmastime last year, sections of the band got creative in their fundraising. The trumpet section became buskers outside of local businesses. The flutes became bakers and held a bake sale outside of the Cary Arts Center. The baritones and saxophones became waiters and waitresses by hosting a spaghetti dinner in the spring.
The competition between sections is still ongoing, but now the band is seeking corporate sponsorships as well.
While families have to pay toward the trip, Loomis said the school staff and booster club understand that for some families, affording the trip may be more difficult, so they’re taking that into consideration.
“Every dollar we get in helps kind of reduce the cost per kid,” she said. “While families are paying toward this trip to Macy’s, not every family can pay, so our budget always allows for those kids that aren’t able to contribute.”
Practice and more practice
While fundraising efforts are running full speed, so are band members. At band camp this month, members practiced their normal routines along with added exercises for the parade.
“Every day for warm ups we do laps around the school in a parade block to kind of prepare ourselves and to build stamina, in order to be able to do it during Macy’s with ease,” said Sarah Moody, a senior drum major.
She said one lap around the school and parking lot is a mile, and the parade covers about two and a half. The practice is helping the band members gradually build up their laps.
“We keep adding distance to it,” said Minick of what he calls the “Macy’s March.” “And then we actually do our performance at the end of that, so part of it is just the conditioning of it.”
The band will march the length of the parade and then have a performance at the end at the famous Macy’s Herald Square. The performance lasts 1 minute and 15 seconds. Volunteers have even painted a replica of the parade’s logo, which the band will perform on, onto the school’s parking lot.
“This is a huge deal for everyone,” said Ryan Thakur, a senior trumpet player, about the experience they’re about to embark on. “It’s really the first time any of us have really done anything like this.”
Moody said she not only will enjoy the parade itself, but the moments leading up to it.
“Especially because it’s my senior year,” she said. “It’s just something that is really like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get to be in.”
Want to help?
Go to turnthebigapplegreen.org to donate and keep up with the fundraising progress.