Two Cape Coral schools hope to send their bands to the 2014 National Memorial Day Parade.
The Mariner High School Silver Magic Marching Band and the Cape Coral High School Marching Seahawks are raising funds to represent the city of Cape Coral in the May event in Washington, D.C. Both bands received nominations from U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, whose district covers all of the Cape.
"I was pretty honored to have my group nominated for that," James Samz, the band director for the Silver Magic Marching Band, said.
He explained that nominations for the parade typically go to those bands in the community that are known for churning out quality performances, as well as for their public involvement locally.
"I've never received a nomination like this before," he said.
Samz noted that taking part in the parade with his students would also mean a lot to him on a personal level. Before becoming a teacher, Samz spent 16 years serving in the United States National Guard.
"We're really excited. We have some phenomenal students in both of our ensembles," he said.
When the Cape bands learned of their nominations, they decided to pool their efforts.
"We decided we would try to make it a community-wide endeavor and see if we could get the community behind us to try to get us to Washington, D.C.," Samz said.
If the bands can raise $70,000 total, it would cover the deposits and down payments required to participate in and attend the event. If the bands can raise $85,000, the total would also cover a $100 deposit required from each of the marching band members, meaning all the students go for free.
If the bands cannot reach either of the fund-raising goals, those band members who can cover the remaining costs of the trip will combine to form one band to represent the Cape in the parade.
"We're really just focusing on the full amount right now and hoping that the community can pull through for us," Samz said.
The Silver Magic Marching Band currently has 67 members.
The bands kicked off their fund-raising efforts on Sept. 7 with a Family Fun Night hosted at Mike Greenwell's Bat-A-Ball and Family Fun Park. The event raised about $1,200 before the weather hit.
"It rained the entire time," he said.
The group had hoped to raise the $1,500 needed to cover the parade's application fee.
"We fell a little bit short of that," Samz said.
The bands plan to host additional fund-raisers throughout the school year to hit their goal, including a 5K in March and a joint performance in April to serve as a sort of final send-off before the big event.
"We're looking at doing it at the end of April," he said.
Samz noted that the Silver Magic is excited about collaborating with the Seahawks.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for the Cape to gain some national exposure, positive exposure," he said.
The 2014 National Memorial Day Parade will start at 2 p.m. May 27. It will be televised live on The Pentagon Channel, the American Forces Network and in more than 100 cities across the country.
The parade will also be streamed live online.
Parade participants will march down Constitution Avenue, from Seventh to 17th streets.
For more information on the Mariner High School Silver Magic Marching Band and its upcoming performances and fund-raisers, visit the band's Web site online at: www.silvermagicband.org.
For the Cape Coral High School Marching Seahawks, visit: www.capeseahawkmusic.org.