This May 29, roughly 50 Hoboken students will march in the nation’s capital for the National Memorial Day Parade, as long as they raise the money for the invitation-only event.
The televised parade, celebrating fallen service men and women, will incorporate marching bands from all 50 states and military branches, including Hoboken’s Rockin’ Redwings.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time the Rockin’ Redwings will participate in a national parade,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson. “We will represent all of Hudson County and will be one of only four New Jersey bands selected.”
According to Johnson, bands are selected beginning with a nomination from a local mayor and are judged on specific selection criteria “based upon videotape submissions, recommendations, director interviews, past accomplishments, uniforms and past adjudication results in similar parades or festivals.”
Johnson said the district’s marching band found out about their nomination last year and were officially invited to participate in August.
Participation in the parade comes with a price: a little over $12,000. The Hoboken Board of Education has already paid about $2,000.
According to Johnson, “The balance of the cost of the trip, which is just over $10,000, will be jointly funded by the Hoboken Board of Education and through fundraising efforts led by Mr. [Marching Band Director Dave] Stasiak and the Rockin’ Redwings. To date, the marching band has raised $3,000.”
Over the past few months the band has hosted a family movie night for funds and reached out to past Rockin’ Redwing alumnae for monetary support.
According to Stasiak, the band also has a GoFundMe site, which has raised over $1,000.
“A tremendous thank you goes out to the Board of Education for making this experience possible,” said High School Principal Robin Piccapietra. “The Rockin’ Redwings put their heart and soul into performing and perfecting their talents.”
Johnson said she believes it is important that the student in a club or organization to be involved in the fundraising efforts for a trip like this.
“It shows the Board of Education the students not only want to participate but understand the value behind participating,” said Johnson. “They should have a role in being able to do it and in good faith fundraise.”
Johnson said she was surprised by how much the band has raised so far.
“They have actually already exceeded expectations,” said Johnson. “They will continue to do a few more fundraisers, so maybe when it’s all said and done it’s possible they will raise half of the funds themselves.”
The next fundraiser for the marching band is Jan. 18 at Louise & Jerry’s at 329 Washington St., from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A $20 donation for the happy hour is suggested for participants.
To donate to the bands GoFundMe page go to https://www.gofundme.com/national-memorial-day-parade-trip.
According to Johnson the students won’t be gone long. They will depart for D.C. the day before the parade in a 54-seat motor coach with chaperones and the band director.
While in D.C. the students will have an opportunity to see a few sights, including a concert at the U.S. Capitol.
“I think it is good for the kids to see the world outside of Hoboken,” said Johnson. “This trip offers our marching band members the opportunity to perform on a national stage, alongside the nation’s top school bands; students will also experience our capital’s rich learning resources, museums, and monuments.”
“This trip has the power to broaden the band’s awareness of our nation’s history.” – Dave Stasiak
According to Johnson, the Rockin’ Redwings plan to perform patriotic music, including the famous service medley “Armed Forces on Parade,” and Stasiak’s arrangement of the “Army Strong” theme used in military recruiting commercials.
Stasiak said he believes the trip will serve as a reminder of what Memorial Day is really about.
“This trip has the power to broaden the band’s awareness of our nation’s history and give these students a chance to remember and honor our veterans,” said Stasiak. “My hope is that this experience makes their understanding of Memorial Day and our country’s history more real, beyond celebrating at local parades or having barbecues. I think what usually serves as only a concept for many band members will be actualized when they are surrounded by thousands of veterans and troops in our nation’s capital.”
Over 10,000 people participate in the parade every year. Several hundred thousand spectators will watch floats, marching bands, veterans, and service men and woman from across the country march down Constitution Avenue.
The parade is televised annually on the Discovery’s Military Channel, and worldwide to American troops on the Pentagon Channel.
The parade will be streamed live May 29 to service members around the world via American Forces Network and broadcast on Washington, D.C.’s News Channel 8 and streamed online at www.military.com.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.