Fitch Band to ‘Honor our Heroes’ in DC


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Staff report

AUSTINTOWN

The Austintown Fitch High School Marching Band will perform in the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C., on April 14. The school was one of only 13 bands from across the nation selected to participate. The National Cherry Blossom Parade has been listed as one of the top six festival and parades in the United States.

The two-hour procession will travel along Constitution Avenue and marks the conclusion of the four-week long Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival takes place in March and April and commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo to the nation’s capital. The parade draws an on-site audience of more than 150,000 people and is nationally syndicated to an estimated 82 percent of U.S. television markets.

“I am incredibly proud and honored to be a part of this special group of young men and women,” said Wesley O’Connor, Fitch High School director of bands. “The Austintown Fitch Band, the parents and community are an incredible group of people who helped us achieve this tremendous honor. I can think of no better venue than to see the Fitch Band march past the Washington Monument with red, white and blue uniforms playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever!’”

Approximately 147 people, including students, staff and chaperones, will travel for this opportunity. It will cost the band more than $75,000 to make the trip. To help with the associated costs, the band parents’ organization created fundraising opportunities throughout the year. “From sausage and fruit sales to our Jazz & Dessert Festival, our parents and students worked hard to earn this trip,” O’Connor said. The trip is organized by Todd Wessel of Bob Rogers Travel Company.

While in Washington on Friday before the parade, the band will be hosted by the Air Force’s Ceremonial Brass who will conduct a marching and drum clinic for the band members at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling. The Ceremonial Brass organize all musical programs at Arlington National Cemetery. The Band will also perform a concert at the World War II Memorial on Saturday evening. They have dubbed the trip as their “Honoring our Heroes” tour.

The band obtained permission from the National Park Service to lay a wreath at the Vietnam Memorial to honor three Fitch graduates who gave their lives for our country.

The band will present a custom wreath with the names of Class of ’62 members 2nd Lt. Charles Brown and Sgt. James Prommersberger and Class of ’66 graduate PFC Darryl Dombroski. The band will conclude their trip Sunday by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at the National cemetery.

O’Connor stated “We are so excited to travel to our nation’s capital and represent the Austintown Community and the Austintown Local School District. We are thrilled and honored to take the Fitch Band’s tradition of patriotism to our nation’s capital, and we are so proud to be able to honor our heroes while we are in DC.”

For more information or to contribute to the band’s fundraising efforts, visit www.afband.org or email austintownbandparent@gmail.com.

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