The Richmond Hill High School marching band had wanted to display its talents on a national stage for quite some time. It got its wish Saturday, performing in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington.
“We’ve had a lot of success locally and won some competitions around the state, so we were looking at doing something bigger,” said Dr. Daniel Kiene, the director of bands at RHHS. “We applied last August and were delighted when we were accepted.”
The application process included submitting a résumé with videos and recommendations. Kiene found out in September that the band had been accepted.
“We had a lot of planning to do in a short amount of time,” he said. “At times, we had three fundraisers going on at once, plus we had extra rehearsals.”
A contingent of 163 students and 20 chaperones on four charter buses left Richmond Hill last Thursday night and arrived Friday morning in the nation’s capital. They spent the day touring the various museums of the Smithsonian Institution and the memorials around the area.
The band was lined up by 9 a.m. Saturday for the parade along Constitution Avenue, and finished around noon.
“We blew it out of the water,” Kiene said. “It was a high point for our program.”
Kiene said the parade began at the Capitol and ended at the Washington Monument. Along the route the band passed the National Archives and the museums of Natural History and American History. After the parade, the band stopped at Kings Dominion, a theme park in Virginia, before driving back to Richmond Hill and arriving Sunday night.
“We think we have a very high quality program, and it’s nice to have that verified,” Kiene said. “We were hoping to be selected but not expecting it since it was our first time applying.”
Kiene said he hopes the marching band can continue to participate in a national event every other year, including venues such as the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
“We couldn’t have done this without dozens of people working tirelessly for several months,” he said. “The band staff, parents, kids, administration and school board were all as supportive as could be.”
A recording of the parade is scheduled be broadcast locally on WTGS at 6 a.m. May 22 and 4 p.m. June 25. It can also be seen at: http://wjla.com/news/local/full-video-of-the-2016-cherry-blossom-festival-parade.