The Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is seeking support
to help fund its trip to the 2011 Rose Parade

By BILL STUDENC MPA ’10

2303. That is the number of miles between Cullowhee and Pasadena, Calif., the destination for WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band and home to the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. To help the nearly 400 members of the band make the journey to the other side of the North American continent in late December, the university has launched a series of fundraising activities that are under way this summer.

Each marching band member who plans to participate in the five-day trip to California is being asked to contribute $945 to cover a portion of his or her expenses. That’s more than half of the estimated cost of $1,700 per student, said Bob Buckner ’67, director of the Pride of the Mountains.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not only for our band members, but also for our university,” Buckner said. “The Rose Parade is seen by millions of people from around the world, and the Pride of the Mountains will be serving as marching musical ambassadors for Western Carolina. It’s a role we accept as a high honor, and we are ready to take on the challenges – both logistical and financial – of transporting our students, their instruments and other equipment to California.”

As part of the band’s efforts, with the theme “Help Send the Pride to Pasadena,” band members are mailing postcards to family members, friends and neighbors seeking contributions to help them meet their individual fundraising targets. “Each dollar contributed will get a Pride of the Mountains Marching Band member two miles closer to Pasadena,” said Matt Henley ’93 MAEd ’95, assistant band director. “Like the old saying goes, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. In this case, a journey of 2,303 miles begins as our band members fan out across their home communities seeking support this summer.”

In addition, the students of the Pride of the Mountains are selling specially designed, limited edition lapel pins emblazoned with the official Rose Parade and Catamount logos, and purple rubber wristbands adorned with the phrase “Pride to Pasadena.” Lapel pins are available from band members through Sept. 1, at a cost of $7. The wristbands, similar to the Livestrong bands made famous by cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, are available only from band members, at a cost of $3, as long as supplies last.

Also in the works are multiple designs for T-shirts and golf shirts, including a limited-edition design available only from Pride of the Mountains members. The campus Clothing and Gift Shop will be selling selected Rose Parade items, with 50 percent of net profit going to the “Pride to Pasadena” campaign.

Band members say they will be working hard over the summer to help raise the necessary dollars. “Fundraising is so important for this trip because without it several members would have trouble providing for the full cost,” said Kevin Kimbrough, a trombone player from Marietta, Ga.  “Also, considering that we are college students, money is pretty tight for all of us.  With the way the economy has been lately, it is essential for friends and family to chip in, and with all of the assorted fundraising opportunities , there is likely to be one that would interest anyone.”

Billie Jeanne Curns, clarinet player and staff coordinator, said the band’s selection for the Rose Parade represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication by band members past and present. “I am so proud to be part of an organization that has been chosen to be ambassadors for WCU,” said Curns, a music education major from Hayesville. “I believe that the Pride of the Mountains will highlight to the world  how great Western Carolina University is. I remember the first time I saw the Pride of the Mountains marching band when I was in the seventh grade. I knew from that day that I would graduate high school, go to WCU and join this band. Words cannot express how much this band has given to me throughout my collegiate career, and I cannot wait to march in front of billions of people wearing the purple and gold that I love.”

Kimbrough, a senior music education major, said participating in the parade will be an incredible capstone before he begins student-teaching in the spring. “Playing as a part of this marching band for half of the world to watch is really a great feeling.  I know that our band will represent Western Carolina very well in the parade next year, and that our dedication will shine,” he said.

Proud Sponsors

The band is seeking corporate sponsors to help defray the cost of the trip to Pasadena, Calif. For information, contact Chris Mueller, executive director of resource development, at 828.227.3052 or clmueller@wcu.edu.

For the latest information on the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band’s trip to Pasadena, visit www.prideofthemountains.com.