WATERLOO — Fundraising is winding down for the Waterloo High Marching Band trip to New York City to participate in the annual Veterans Day parade Nov. 11 down Fifth Avenue.
The 85-member junior and senior high band has been raising money all summer to pay for the trip.
The band was invited because it represents a community that is recognized by Congress as the official Birthplace of Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor those who died in America’s wars. That first observance took place in Waterloo in May 1866, shortly after the Civil War ended.
Band Director Dan Hacker said he pushed for the trip because he was a student teacher with the Amsterdam High Band that was invited to march in the Veterans Day parade in the Big Apple in 2009. He said he never forgot the experience.
“This has been a three-year process to apply and get accepted. We had to present a video to qualify for an invitation,” Hacker said. “The fact that Waterloo is the Birthplace of Memorial Day was a big selling point for us. They wanted us to come last year, but we asked to hold off until this year because of the 100th anniversary of Veteran’s Day and to give us more time to prepare.”
During its time in New York City, the band also will do some site seeing, catch Broadway shows and visit art museums and the World Trade Center Museum. The Veterans Day parade will begin at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month.
Nicohl Swartley is president of the Waterloo Music Boosters and has a freshman son who plays the clarinet in the band.
“The way this work is each band member has to come up with $675. Large donations help reduce that amount and I’m guessing it will be down to around $600 by the time we need to make the commitment,” Swartley said.
“The final payments are due next week. We’re in good shape as far as helping kids who need it, especially if they’ve made an effort to raise the money themselves,’’ she said.
The New York State VFW Auxiliary has donated $7,500,. The Waterloo Rifle & Pistol Club has contributed more than $700. The Waterloo Education Foundation has donated $1,500 and the Music Boosters have raised more than $4,000. Xylem Inc. of Seneca Falls also has contributed $600.
A concert program this summer raised $5,000.
The band and eight to ten chaperones will travel by charter buses to a hotel in New Jersey for the four-day event, culminating in the Nov. 11 Veteran’s Day parade.
“The kids are psyched up for this,” Swartley said. “I know my son is.”
“We want to thank the community for its support of the band. I’m confident they will represent the community well,” Swartley said.