INDIAN TRAIL – The Sun Valley High School marching band recently took to the streets of New York City to represent their school and the Union County community during the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Students marched down Fifth Avenue in the March 17 parade, beginning at about 2 p.m. and continuing for about 45 minutes. They played New York City-themed favorites like “New York, New York” and “New York State of Mind,” and received a warm welcome from New Yorkers and others attending the parade.
“When folks on the side would see we were from North Carolina, we got a lot of shout-outs, people saying, ‘Thanks for coming to the parade,’” band director Jeff Reynolds said. “(The students) are real troopers; they did a great job playing and kept it going strong.”
Reynolds began looking for opportunities to perform in the Big Apple last fall, when his students were learning music for a New York City-themed show. He signed his students up, and the Sun Valley marching band was soon selected to be part of the parade lineup.
“It was a good opportunity to get the students away from our area and showcase their talents in another city and give them a whole different experience,” Reynolds said.
The group of 55, including Reynolds and seven adult chaperones, departed on the evening of March 14, traveling overnight and arriving in New York City the following morning. They ate breakfast at Planet Hollywood and spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday touring and exploring the city, visiting places like the Rockefeller Center, the National September 11 Memorial and Times Square.
Students also took a dinner cruise along the Hudson River on Sunday evening and had the opportunity to see the Broadway musical “Newsies” that afternoon.
“I love theater and plays and stuff,” senior Kaylee Cuccia, the band’s drum major, said. “Just seeing the difference between school musicals and the stuff you see on Broadway was really
The group had some time to relax on Monday morning before departing for the city to join the parade lineup. They marched down Fifth Avenue toward Central Park during the parade, proudly playing their songs and enjoying a warm reception from parade goers.
“People were just cheering for us,” said junior Michael Severance, who marches baritone. “Right before we started marching, my dad was going around telling everyone, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.’ It’s an honor to march in a parade like that in New
While participating in the parade was an opportunity of a lifetime, it also was a chance for the students to experience many different things about New York City. Kaylee and Michael both hail from New York and had visited the city multiple times. However, the trip gave them a chance to see and experience some things for the first time.
“I knew a lot about where we were geographically and stuff. I think what had the biggest impact on me was the 9/11 Memorial,” Michael said.
For Kaylee, it was the dinner cruise – which not only allowed her to bond with her band-mates and meet students from another high school band, but also gave her the opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time.
“I lived in New York for nine years and had never seen the Statue of Liberty,” she said. “I was just in awe … That was really awesome.”
Reynolds and his students believe the trip and the time spent preparing for the parade created a strong bond within the group, and Reynolds would love to pursue another New York City trip in the future.
“I’m not sure if it’ll be the St. Patrick’s Day parade, but I definitely want to plan another trip to a venue” in the city, he said.
Students refused to take full credit for their accomplishments – much of that honor belongs to Reynolds, they said.
“My love of music has definitely stemmed off of him,” Chelsea Helms, a junior in the drum line, said. “He’s contributed to that so much.”