As the members of the Center Grove High School marching band practice their music and marching, their parents work to raise money to make sure all of them get to go to New York City in November.
Parents already pay $650 to $725 for their child to be a Center Grove Marching Trojan or color guard member. Nine days after the regular season ends, the band will travel to New York City to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
More than 175 marching bands from around the world applied to march in the parade, and Center Grove was one of 12 selected.
The opportunity is great, but the cost is steep for the 165 band members and their families, band parents Lisa and Steve Kimbro said.
The cost per student for the trip is $1,250, which covers transportation, lodging, food and other costs. Buses will take the students and their equipment to New York City. The students will travel on the road for two nights, and the tentative itinerary calls for a three-night stay at a hotel in the city.
That brings the total cost of this year’s marching season to between $1,900 and $1,975 for each band member. Lisa Kimbro, vice president of fundraising for the band boosters, said she knows not every family can afford that cost, which is why the band is conducting a special fundraiser to raise money for the trip.
The band members and their parents are selling raffle tickets for cash prizes throughout the fall, and one winner from the raffle will win a new $30,000 car.
The hope is that band members and parents will sell enough tickets to put $200 to $800 toward each student’s expenses, Kimbro said.
If the band doesn’t raise enough money, then some members of the band may not be able to go to New York, according to Kimbro and band director Kevin Schuessler.
“We’re doing as much as we can to help the kids, to help the parents,” Kimbro said.
Center Grove already has fundraisers such as car washes and shifts working at the high school concession stand to help parents with the cost of the regular marching season. Without those fundraisers, the cost for every student in the band would be closer to $1,000, Kimbro said.
For the raffle, the band is selling tickets for $40 each or three for $100. Cash prizes of $400 will be drawn on Friday, Sept. 19 and Sept. 26, and a grand prize drawing for the car will be Oct. 11.
To cover the cost of the car and make money, parents and band members need to sell at least 1,500 tickets.
That would yield about $200 per student to pay for part of the trip, Kimbro said.
The goal is for the band to sell 4,000 tickets, which would provide about $800 for each student, Kimbro said.
So far, 370 tickets have been sold, Kimbro said.
Kimbro also is looking for corporate sponsors for the trip, and companies that contribute to the band could receive advertising space on one of the band’s two equipment trailers. About $3,000 in sponsorships have been collected for the trip and will be divided among the students, though some companies have scoffed at the notion of contributing to Center Grove’s band, as they believe the members already can afford to make the trip, Kimbro said.
If anyone she meets is skeptical about donating, Kimbro tells them she wants to ensure all of the band members have a chance to travel to New York and perform in the parade.
“What a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.