Setting their sights on the Big Apple

INDIAN TRAIL – Students of the Sun Valley High School marching band are gearing up to take their talent to the streets of New York City.

(Above) A Sun Valley High School band member marches in a competition at Appalachian State University earlier this year. The band will perform in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

(Above) A Sun Valley High School band member marches in a competition at Appalachian State University earlier this year. The band will perform in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The band was recently chosen to perform in New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in March 2014, and although the event is still four months away, the band is already practicing hard and seeking to raise funds for the trip.

The group enters into marching band competitions each fall, and chose to do a New York City-themed show for its fall 2013 performances, which propelled band director Jeff Reynolds to pursue opportunities to play in a New York City parade. Reynolds looked at performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade first, but learned Macy’s requests 100 or more band members to take part in the parade.

“We have about 60 to 65 members … we looked at other opportunities and (found out about) the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds received word earlier this spring the band had been accepted into the parade lineup, and dozens of members are now busy preparing for their performance – which will feature some of their fall show’s tunes, such as “New York, New York” and “New York State of Mind.”

“They’re very excited; they’re really looking forward to the opportunity,” Reynolds said. “It’s unique for the band not just to visit New York City, but to perform there … The students have been performing very well this season. This is a good opportunity to showcase (their talent) to the public.”

Although it’s the band members’ first time performing in New York, it’s not their first parade. The band takes part in several local parades including the Matthews Alive Festival, the Union County Christmas Parade in Monroe and Indian Trail’s Christmas parade.

“The kids really like the Matthews Alive parade. People are always happy to hear the bands play,” Reynolds said. He added, “The element of getting to go to a big city like New York and see something we haven’t seen before, that’s exciting in itself.”

Though the band members are taking their performance seriously, they’ll also have the chance to enjoy the city’s culture. Their trip will include attending the Broadway musical “Newsies,” a tour of Radio City Music Hall and a visit to the 9/11 memorial site. The trip will culminate with the parade, followed by a dinner cruise in the harbor that evening.

“The parade is the main reason we’re going, but we’re trying to get in as much as we can of showing kids different aspects of the city, as well,” Reynolds said.

One of the biggest challenges the group will face during the next few months is acquiring the money to pay for the trip. Band members are responsible for coming up with the money for the trip to help cover transportation – two charter buses at a total cost of about $12,000, Reynolds said – and their stay in a hotel right outside of the city. The students plan to sell popcorn, secure contributions from local businesses and organize additional fundraisers over the next few months.

“We’re trying to be creative with fundraising and see what we can do,” Reynolds said.

The band will perform its winter concert on Dec. 12, a Thursday, at 7 p.m. at the school, 5211 Old Charlotte Hwy. The concert is free to attend, but donations to help with the trip will be accepted. The school also will host a mattress sale on Dec. 14, a Saturday, to help with the band program. Contact Reynolds at jeff.reynolds@ucps.k12.nc.us or 704-296-3009 or go to www.sunvalleybands.org for more information on how to help.

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