This year the Marching Sharks are prepping for their biggest performance ever, the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. “This is definitely a once in a lifetime experience,” says Justin Goff, band director for the Gulf Coast High Sharks. Following a two-year selection process, the Gulf Coast High School Band was picked to march in the famed parade. They are the sixth high school band to ever be selected from Florida and the first from Collier County to be selected.
I caught up with the group during band camp to experience their excitement firsthand. “I’m super excited. I want it to be November already,” says Cameron Feliciano, a senior clarinet player. While everyone is excited, there are plenty of things to be nervous about. “It is such a long walk and you are there for so long, you start to get tired,” explains Cameron. The parade route is two and a half miles long. The group also has to learn to be versatile with their performance. They are used to performing on the football field during halftime, but they will have to adjust for their parade performance. Band director Justin Goff tells me they’ve ordered a tarp the size of Herald Square in order to practice that transition. Then there’s the weather. “I hope the weather prevails. Last year in Chicago it was cold every day up until parade day, then it warmed up the day of the parade,” says Austin Horton, a senior trombone player. Last year the Sharks performed in Chicago’s Christmas parade.
These amazing trips and experiences truly showcase why it is important for kids to get involved in activities outside of academics in school. How cool will it be for these kids to one day tell their kids they marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?!? Throughout Collier County Public Schools (CCPS), there are so many programs for students to get engaged in, especially in the fine arts. I encourage parents to check out our Fine Arts Department home page (www.collierschools.com/finearts) on our district website. There you will find information on the many different music and visual arts opportunities for students. Take a moment to explore these programs and what they offer with your child. While the trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is unique, I promise many of the other experiences your child will have in these programs will be just as awesome. I can vividly remember the many places I got to visit while taking part in my high school’s choir program many years ago.
On a final note, make sure to tune in and support the Marching Sharks on Thursday, November 26th at 9:00 a.m. We are certainly proud of them and we are looking forward to seeing them perform!
Support the Sharks!
Here is the link to the Article in the NDN specifically, there is video along with lots of pictures. The text from the article is provided below. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/local-news/for-gulf-coast-band-the-chance-of-a-lifetime-is-still-a-long-way-off_78988315
On Friday night, Gulf Coast High School band parents get an exclusive thrill: A preview of the 2015 Marching Sharks show. They can count on being knocked over by a brass-and-wind tidal wave, 363 strong and arguably the largest high school band/flag and dance line in Florida, sweeping down the field to the cadenced thunder of a supercharged drum line.
But underneath all that music and rhythm, there’s an undercurrent of sound this year, inaudible on the field, but real. Pervasive. Constant. It’s the hum of booster parents tapping in airline data, volunteers stitching up pants hemlines, the potential click of a countdown clock on www.gchsharkband.com displaying the countdown days, hours, minutes and seconds to the Sharks’ biggest performance ever: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
More than 3.5 million people, lined up nearly 10 deep since dawn on either side of its route, will see the first Southwest Florida band in the parade since Port Charlotte marched in 1994 as the Sharks strut down the 2½-mile route flanking Central Park to Herald Square in front of the famous Macy’s Department Store.
That’s where the real crowd is electronically assembled: An estimate 50 million people worldwide watch this amalgam of Broadway, Hollywood, patriots and school talent conclude their march with live TV performances in Herald Square. It is such a revered holiday tradition in the U.S. that Central Time zones tape-delay the broadcast so Santa Claus’s float can arrive exactly at noon in Illinois, as it does in New York.
The pressure is immense. The determination, even more.
Parent Marianne Rogers summarized it: “We’re not just marching in the parade. We’re representing Florida.”
Underclassmen fidgeted in a long line for uniform fittings at the high school Saturday, resigned to the trek through a 13-station assembly line doling out gloves, black-lace shoes and clothes of architecture rarely seen in hot, humid Florida. There are bibbers (suspendered pants), shakos (visored stovepipe headwear), black-and-white Hussar jackets adorned with passementerie (braided trim). Don’t forget the satin teal half-cape.
The pants hem must break at the shoelace; the coat must be loose enough to allow musicians to swing their instruments out to the side and thrust them smartly forward without stressing the fabric. Finally, this year, it needs a bit of room for a set or two of tees and Under Armor.
“It’s the constant challenge we have with Southern schools,” said Kenny Fruhauf of Wichita, Kansas, whose company produces Dacron-and-tropical-weight wool uniforms and 6-inch high black shakos that must be strapped to every head except those navigating around sousaphones. “They have to march in hot weather, so we have to construct uniforms that are light. But then they go north to competitions and they have to keep warm.”
“They haven’t seen 40-degree weather very often, and they’ll have to play in that,” mused Justin Goff, Shark band director, adding, “If they’re lucky.” The capricious New York weather on Thanksgiving Day is a dice roll: rainy (1.7 inches in 2006), snowy (4.4 inches, 1989), balmy (69 degrees, 1969) or frigid (21 degrees, 1972).
Still, the word band members could get out best was “Excited.” That’s how Danielle Griffin, 16, a baritone player, termed it: “I think we’re good enough to get chosen.” From Matthew Singleton, 15, a second-year sousaphone player “Really excited.”
Two dozen of the cadre of the 275 volunteers — the Band-Aid Club — staff the tables and move the river of teenagers through. This group keeps the Shark machine marching with its own flock of seamstresses, accountants, burger flippers for concession stand work and fundraisers.
But much of the work is trolling for basic needs: Napkins, mustard and ketchup for their evenings running the food stands at football games. Febreze and Tide to Go sticks, to keep uniforms smelling sweet and looking neat between dry cleanings. Water, water, water and frozen pops to keep kids hydrated in the Florida heat.
Former band parent Tim Gibbons, who still donates proceeds from the individual band member portraits he takes, admits he’s in awe of the group. He called Shark volunteers “a very functional support system.”
Gibbons laughed, recalling his own marching years in the 1980s: “We had 40 people in our band.”
The Sharkettes, led by longtime staff members Allison Shoemaker and Kelly Rhoades, have their own challenges, with dance uniforms, flags and pom-pons. But the band’s musical instruments and hefty uniforms, including hardside clamshell cases for the headgear, could create a logistics brain explosion.
Band-Aid President Cori Olayos has been through a Shark band appearance for Chicago’s Christmas parade, however. She has a grid of needs — and Plan Bs — already tackled, and ticks them off methodically: “We have five flights kids will be flying on, but we know that’s in flux — flights change, equipment changes and there may not be the same number of seats. So we have more than enough seats held.”
Her team has booked hotel space in New Jersey beginning the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The current task is to get students to choose roommates and then group those pairs into blocs of 10 for chaperones. The Band-Aid Club has scheduled meals, sightseeing and a Broadway show. After the parade, for those grieving over their missed turkey feast, there’s a Thanksgiving dinner cruise.
Volunteer Tammy Chabot, a guest teacher in Collier County Public Schools, took a second job cleaning houses to help pay for her teen’s trip.
“This is the experience of a lifetime,” she explained.
The cost each student must bear is $1,500. Final payment is due Sept. 15. But the Band-Aid Club is soliciting money to pay for the transportation of instruments and staff, and to supplement the income of as many students in need as possible. There’s a fundraiser at the high school Sept. 12, and Casey Weston, a GCHS alumna, is offering her performance there. (See sidebar.)
The Band-Aid Club’s dream goal of $600,000 would allow the entire band to travel free. But right now they’re $575,000 away from that.
“A huge thank you has to be for the volunteers,” said Lindsey Haerle, a 17-year-old senior who is head drum major. “I don’t know if they know how thankful we are.”
“I’m grateful to my mom, too. I’d never be the person I am if she hadn’t persuaded me to try out for band.”
As of Monday, Justin Goff had been band director at Gulf Coast High School for, by his count, all of 12 days.
The former Golden Gate High School band director, who replaced the outgoing Steve Deladurantey, remembers the interview questions, specifically assessing his ability to lead a marching band through the rigors of the Ultimate Parade. The challenge, he said, is wedging the Gulf Coast High School Marching Sharks from the 160-foot width of its traditional football field venue into the 20-foot wide streets of Manhattan.
“I think we’re the largest band that’s ever marched in it,” he said soberly. Rehearsal for the Macy’s formations begins Aug. 29. Band students will spend at least nine nights in special practice for it. This is a man whose favorite recreation, he says, is riding roller coasters. He is in the perfect job.
Goff has already had his first challenge. A tarpaulin cut to the exact size of Herald Square to allow the band to practice its televised show is too heavy for UPS to load into a truck and deliver to the school. But no one was going to see any signs of stress as Goff strode out onto the steaming pavement of Gulf Coast High School to greet 248 teenage marchers.
“Gooooooooooood MORNING! Welcome to Week Two of band camp!”
What: Fundraiser for Gulf Coast High School Sharks Marching Band, with music from headline vocalist Casey Weston and area bands such as Yazgar’s Farm, and food from local vendors such as Organically Twisted, Sizzle, Taste of New Jersey, Rita’s Italian Ice, Sweet Caroline and more; kids’ games and activities
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 12
Where: Gulf Coast High School, 7878 Shark Way (just east of Collier Boulevard and Immokalee Road), Naples
Tickets: $10, $20 when entertainment begins
Information: (239) 377-1400 or www.gchsharkband.com
Something else: Band boosters will also be selling stadium banners, $500, that will be displayed for the entire season.The Sharkettes flag and dance line will be offering youngsters a chance to be a Sharkette for an evening, with two rehearsals before young ones march in a half time, with game seats and a hot dog and chips, for $50. Proceeds will offset the warmup suits required by the parade for all flag and dance line marchers. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade organizers surprised 300+ members of the Gulf Coast High Shark Marching Band with news that the band has been selected to march in the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They are one of just 10 bands chosen from a field of 175 bands nationwide. Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) has never had anyone do something like this. Come November 2015, 50 million viewers will watch our students on TV. This truly speaks to the quality of the CCPS music programs as a whole but on this day, a special shout out and congratulations to the Gulf Coast High School band students and their director, Steve DeLadurantey. Superintendent, Dr. Kamela Patton, was with the students in the band room when the creative director of the Macy’s Parade made the big announcement. It was a magical moment, one certainly worthy of goose bumps.