|LHS freshman Matt Marzola and junior Mike Holahan practice their drum skills while|
showing off the Lancers’ special Rose Bowl drum covers.
Union Leader Correspondent
|Ailish Pilotte, a junior at Londonderry High School,|
polishes her sousaphone Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday afternoon, students, parents and staff members taking part in the upcoming journey to Pasadena, Calif., loaded up hundreds of band instruments, color guard flags, uniforms and suitcases for 305 students and 35 chaperones onto an 18-wheel truck bound for the West Coast.
The truck began its trip across the country to deliver its contents to the Marching Lancers’ hotel in southern California for their performance in the 2011 New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade, Friends of Music spokesman Pollyann Winslow said.
Theband’sfinalLondonderry practice will take place on Dec. 27, one day before the Lancers leave for California.
Over a year in the making, Sunday was “Truck Day” for the Lancers. Music Director Andy Soucy said he began organizing the mass-moving venture shortly after the band and color guard received their invite to perform in the parade.
After learning that a high school band from Danvers, Mass., had transported their equipment and luggage via truck during their performance in the 2010 Rose Bowl parade, Soucy contracted with the same moving company, joining forces with the parent booster organization Friends of Music to raise the $18,000 necessary to fund the trip to Pasadena and back.
The band’s equipment and luggage will be sent directly to the California hotel where they’ll be staying and will be waiting for them when they arrive via four separate flights on Dec. 28.
“It’s countdown time,” Soucy said Sunday afternoon, nine days before the Lancers board their planes.
Over the past week, hotel arrangements for the tour group have been finalized, Soucy said, while school officials have remained in constant contact with the Pasadena parade organizers.
In preparation to load the truck, instruments were repaired, cleaned and carefully packed, Winslow said.
“Some (of the instruments) have even received a new look,” she added, noting that the Friends of Music raised enough money so all 18 of the band’s sousaphones could be decked out with new “Tournament of Roses” logo bell covers and all of the drums now display the 2011 parade logo, “Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories.”
In recent weeks, uniform chairmen Deb Conti and Janice Cardwell oversaw uniform inspections and numerous dry-cleaning sessions to get all 305 uniforms cleaned, sorted, repaired and returned to the students. Fundraising continued to replace weathered plumes and gloves, marching shoes were scrubbed and uniform bags marked with special tags.
“It’s been exciting and scary at the same time: There’s been a lot of sleepless nights,” Soucy said. “But this is truly such a unique opportunity; there’s really nothing like it.”
Fundraising efforts have been ongoing, Winslow said, with individual student fundraisers such as “Lancer on a Stick” lollipops and poinsettia sales, aimed at assisting the band members with travel expenses. As of last weekend, sales from the lollipops alone had yielded over $500. Corporate fundraisers and donations are being used toward overall expenses, including the transport of the band’s equipment.
Londonderry’s Lancers will solely represent both New England and New York State in the Rose Bowl parade: The band previously participated in the 1992, 1997 and 2004 parades.
Television coverage for the event is worldwide and includes most major networks, not to mention the millions of spectators the Lancers will march past along the parade route. Those watching at home may tune in to the Lancers’ performance at approximately 12:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
The Lancers’ five-day tour will also include performances at Disneyland and Pasadena City College.
For more information or to make a donation assisting the Lancers’ trip, visit www.sendtheband.com.