By Sarah Cocchimiglio
Pottsgrove High School Marching Falcons are going to California.
The 55-member marching band was selected to perform at the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27, but first they have to come up with $1,800. Each.
“We got an invitation last year, to submit an application [to perform at this year’s Holiday Bowl],” said Pottsgrove High School instrumental music director Victor Holladay. “I had submitted an application with a list of all the honors and awards the band has won over the past two years, and individual honors the students had won.”
The selection committee chose the Falcons to perform at the bowl game, along with 12 to 15 other marching bands, perhaps in part to their Calvacade of Bands Championship in 2006. The Falcons also placed second in 2008, third in 2010, won an award at the West Chester Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade in 2011, and participated in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C. in April.
The band has also grown significantly over the past seven years, according to Holladay.
“The program’s almost doubled in size, and has gotten a lot of recognition in this area,” he said. “The people that run the Holiday Bowl, they have representatives in different areas who give them names of bands in certain regions of the country. I guess [we were selected] based on our accomplishments and recognition over the past few years.”
Band members were understandably thrilled to hear of their selection, especially since the Holiday Bowl is such a big bowl game.
“The students were extremely excited, one, because a it’s California, and getting to go to California is exciting,” Holladay said. “And they’re growing up. They’re high school students. They’re familiar with bowl games and how popular they are during the holiday season.”
Which means they’ll get to perform before a national audience, an honor typically reserved for much larger marching bands, Holladay said.
“Bowl games typically solicit bands that are larger in size, 150 to 200 members. Our students didn’t think larger bowl games like this would be interested in smaller bands, but they were very, very interested,” Holladay said.
Haley Hawkins, 17, said she’s excited to perform at a televised event, and she’s looking forward to the rest of the Dec. 26-31 trip.
“It’s not just the Holiday Bowl,” said Haley, who will be a senior this year. “It’s kind of like a vacation, because we’re going to Hollywood and everything.”
Now the students have just a few months to raise the $1,800 they’ll need for travel expenses, including airfare, transportation, accommodations and meals.
A fundraising committee has set up a Facebook page, to help spread the word about the road to the Holiday Bowl and fundraising activities.
D.J. Walter, whose son Kyle plays the drums, is heading up the fundraising committee.
“Basically, what we’ve done is come up with a corporate-sponsor letter that we will be sending out to bigger businesses in the Pottstown area,” Walter said. “We’re actually going to get the kids involved and have them go out and introduce themselves.”
The committee is planning some online fundraising that individual students will promote, so that friends and family outside of the Pottsgrove area can get involved and contribute, and a PayPal account has been set up for online donations.
“We have some other things in the works, too,” Walter said. “Like us on Facebook to see the different things we’re posting on there.”
In addition to individual student sales and band fundraisers, the committee is soliciting for private and corporate donations.
“We’re hoping to get close to raising at least half the money for each student,” Holladay said. Whatever remains, the students and their parents will be responsible for paying.
Walter said the goal is to raise as much money as possible by November, and in the meantime, families of band members are on payment plans, so they’re submitting certain amounts on certain dates, so they’re not faced with one lump sum due, especially during the holidays.
“It stinks because with the economy and everything, nobody has money to just pay [$1,800], so we all have to work together and do our part and fundraise,” Haley said. “And it’s so much money. I’m pretty sure we can do it, but we’re asking a lot. We really need the help, and everybody’s support would be highly appreciated.”
Upcoming Pottsgrove High School Marching Band fundraisers include:
- Car wash and chicken barbecue, Aug. 11
- Children’s consignment sale, Sept. 8
- Comedy show, Sept. 15
Check back with Patch, or visit the band’s Facebook page, to find out more details about these events when they become available
The Holiday Bowl game will be televised on ESPN at 6:45 p.m., Dec. 27.