Alder students take their music to Philadelphia and NYC


(Posted Nov. 10, 2016)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

On Thanksgiving morning, a ritual in many households is to watch the holiday parades on television. This year, folks in the Jonathan Alder Local School District will be watching the Philadelphia parade.

They’ll be looking for Alder’s marching band, one of the high school bands invited to play in the nation’s oldest holiday parade. Now in its 97th year, the Philadelphia parade is four years older than the Macy’s parade in New York City and the parade in Detroit.

“We’ll be playing something fun, exciting and energetic,” said band director Justin Hennig. Other bands will be playing holiday music, he said.

Alder’s band received the invitation to perform in the parade after submitting a video. The band goes on a trip every four years, while the choir travels every third year. This year, the band and choir trip years coincide, so they are traveling together.

“Some students are in both band and choir, so they’ll be pulling double duty,” Hennig said.

After the band’s performance in the 1.4-mile parade, viewed by an estimated 600,000 people who line the route 10 to 12 people deep, the band and choir will reboard buses for New York City where the choir will perform the next day in the famed Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

“They’ve prepared 30 to 45 minutes of music, some of which will be holiday songs,” Hennig said.

The cathedral is the fourth largest Christian church in the world, its interior covering 121,000 square feet. The church attracts many visitors.

“It’s a neat, incredible experience,” Hennig said of the opportunity to perform at large venues. “It gives our students a lot of exposure.”

A total of 144 students and 34 chaperones are making the trip. The students are responsible for paying their way.

“When we learned in April that we would be going, the Music Boosters stepped up with fund-raising efforts to help students meet the costs,” Hennig said.

The cost for the weekend bus tour is $940 per person, which includes bus fare, hotels, meals, a Broadway show and a show at the Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes. The group will eat Thanksgiving dinner at a venue overlooking Times Square.

“The Music Boosters decided to pay $50 for each student, thus lowering their cost to $890,” Hennig said. “We are lucky to have parents and a community so supportive.”

To help keep costs down, the group is traveling at night. Participants will sleep on the way.

“That eliminates another night in a hotel,” Hennig said.

Buses will pull out around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 22, arriving in Philadelphia with plenty of time for marchers to freshen their legs for the parade.

The group will return home around 8 a.m. Nov. 27, giving students 24 hours to rest up before returning to school.


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