The Loretto High School Band has been selected to represent the state of Tennessee in the National Memorial Day Parade. The honor is both a thrill and a challenge.
The invitation came out of the blue in an email to Band Director Darrell Boston. “I was at home when the email came through. I was sharing it with my wife. And she said do you think that’s real or a joke and I said I don’t know but I’m going to find out.”
It’s real, alright. The parade takes place May 27 and commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The invitation came from the American Veterans Center.
They’ll be marching up Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC along with marching bands from each branch of the military, floats, Veterans groups, and bands from every state.
It’s a big stage for a small-town high school band from Loretto in southern Lawrence County. Population: about 1800.
“It was kind of crazy. Director Boston called me immediately and said I gotta read something to you. He read it over the phone. And we both sat there kind of quiet. It was like, Is this possible?” said Jay Neidert, President of the Loretto Band Booster Club.
“This is really, really big. You know, the biggest thing that’s ever happened to our program. The first thing we immediately said is we’ve got to find a way to make it happen.”
News 2 caught up with the band at Vanderbilt University last Saturday night, where they played pep tunes as the Commodores trounced the Ole Miss Rebels. (Click to watch from the News 2 app)
A total of 46 kids make up the band this year with 30 musicians and 16 in the color guard.
Playing at Vanderbilt is exciting for sure. But marching in a national parade is a very big honor for students like Anna Davis, a senior at Loretto High School, who plays the Baritone horn.
“When he told us we were all just shocked. I kind of didn’t believe it at first,” said Davis. “Then we found out we would be able to go. We’re raising all that money and I’m really excited about it.”
Before the band can make the trip, the students need to raise $60,000 to cover expenses. They need 2 buses, hotel rooms, food and there are other expenses for moving instruments, costumes and more. Adult chaperones will have to pay their own way.
So far, the students have raised about 20% of their goal.
Boston said, “We had a pancake supper with Santa Claus. We’ve done fried pies and we’re hoping to do smoked bologna sandwiches and another pancake supper. Just whatever we can – washing cars, going door to door. So if anybody would like to help us out we need all the help we can get.”
This is not the only big gig for the Loretto HS band. They marched in the Gatlinburg parade a couple of years ago and they were featured in the Nashville Christmas parade in 2016.
The kids are used to raising money to pay for competitions, equipment, uniforms, even sheet music. But the Washington trip is something much bigger.
If you’ve ever supported music in Tennessee, music in schools, if you’ve ever played an instrument you know what these students go through. The hard work they put into each and every day,” said Jay Neidert. “We’re a very small organization, a very small band, but we’re very proud. We have a very big heart. And we’re determined to make this opportunity happen for our students at Loretto.”
The Loretto High School Band has a fundraising website if you would like to support their March to Washington. The Loretto Band Boosters is a registered nonprofit so donations are tax deductible at fundly.com/loretto-band-march-to-washington.