The Homestead High School Marching Band, with more than a quarter of its members from Los Altos, is headed to New York City in November to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The Homestead Marching Band, ranked third in the state last year, is one of only 10 bands in the nation selected to participate in the 2011 parade.
“We are all really excited about it,” said Riley Viveros, a sophomore from Los Altos who plays the mellophone, particularly about “the sensations of being in the most famous parade in the world.”
“We wanted one of the best bands from California, and Homestead has already proven themselves competitively to be that,” said Wesley Whatley, associate creative director of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The band is hard at work this year, devoting nearly 15 hours a week to practice for regular competitions. Over the summer, students put in more than 20 hours a week honing their skills.
Rehearsals for the Macy’s performance begin in October, Viveros said. The band is currently working on its competition performance, which it will debut Oct. 8 at Cupertino High School.
For the Macy’s parade, the band will select three songs for the 3-mile march to Macy’s, and one additional song to perform in front of Macy’s for the national television broadcast. Among the chosen songs, Viveros said the band will play “Fantasia in G,” inspired by Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
“I love the thrill of the competitions and seeing how all of the practice of the marching band pays off in the end,” Viveros said. “It is amazing to see all your hard work pay off. It is a lot of fun.”
Connie Viveros, Riley’s mother, said the Homestead marching band is popular, with approximately 10 percent of the student body as members.
Homestead bested more than 150 applicants for its spot in the parade, but now the band faces an even bigger challenge – raising the money to travel to New York. Homestead Music Boosters are hoping to raise $300,000 to transport the more than 250 band members plus parent chaperones, instruments and uniforms to the Big Apple. Additional costs include hotels, meals and intracity transportation for the band.
Macy’s does not provide funds for travel or housing parade participants, so Homestead is asking the community for support. With federal and state budget cuts to music programs, the state and district aren’t able to fund the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
John Burn, the band’s director, has worked with student-musicians at Homestead for more than 20 years and was once a student at the school himself. He noted that being the only high school band in the Western United States selected to march in the parade is “a huge source of pride not only for the school, but for Silicon Valley and the entire state of California. It will take a community effort to make this happen – we simply can’t do it alone.”
The band is soliciting corporate sponsorships and individual donations. Interested parties can preview the Homestead High School Corporate Sponsorship Programs on the band’s website at www.hhs.fuhsd.org/mbmain.
Individual supporters are encouraged to click the “Donor” link on the band’s website at homestead.schoolloop.com/mbmacys or make donations payable to Homestead High School Music Boosters, and send to Homestead High School Music Boosters 21370 Homestead Road, Cupertino 95014.
The Homestead High School Marching Band performs at field show competitions, parades and home football games during the fall. Since 2005, the award-winning band has placed eighth or better in the 4A/5A finals at the Western Band Association Championships. The Homestead Winter Guard has won its division at the California Color Guard Circuit Championships for the past five years, and the Homestead Winter Percussion Ensemble is the 2010 CCGC Scholastic World Division Champion.