Lafayette, LA – The University of Louisiana at Lafayette's marching band is scrambling to raise the rest of the money it needs to travel to New York City to perform in the 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“We've got our backs against the wall,” said Dr. Brian Taylor, band director.
Members of the Pride of Acadiana Marching Band still need to raise $60,000, he said. They've already come up with more than $300,000.
Each band member taking the trip must pay $1,500. But that won't cover the entire cost of travel, Taylor explained.
So, additional funding has been generated by the sale of apparel, such as t-shirts and sweatshirts, and through an “Adopt a Band Member” campaign. Some area businesses have made contributions, too.
Some unexpected expenses have arisen, Taylor said. For example, he just received a bill for $16,000 to cover a fuel surcharge for the Boeing 767 jet airliner that has been chartered to take the band to the Big Apple.
About half of each band member's fee is allocated for plane fare. Taylor said they'll have to each chip in another $100 to cover the fuel surcharge. The rest of a student's contribution will be used to cover meals, lodging and transportation by bus.
A charter plane is needed, in part, because of time constraints. The 275-member band will perform at Cajun Field when Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns® face Western Kentucky on Saturday, Nov. 17. It will then head to New York to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 22 before returning to Lafayette in time for the Cajuns' Nov. 24 home game with South Alabama.
Parents and friends traveling from Acadiana to New York City for the parade will take commercial flights.
The Pride of Acadiana is one of only 10 marching bands invited to perform in the parade. Almost 400 bands applied for the opportunity.
This will be the second time UL Lafayette has participated in the Thanksgiving tradition. The first was in 2005; the group also performed on NBC's “Today Show” prior to the parade that year.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is the second-most watched television event in the United States. Only the Super Bowl draws more viewers.
About 3.5 million spectators line the two-mile parade route. About 50 million across the globe watch it on television.
Taylor said media coverage of the band's performance is invaluable. The trip is also a chance for students to learn about one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Band members will visit museums, attend Broadway plays and go sightseeing.
“I just want as many band members as possible to have this experience,” Taylor said.
About 30 students won't be able to make the trip, for a variety of reasons.
The band is scheduled to perform on the USS Intrepid, a World War II aircraft carrier that is part of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The space shuttle Enterprise was added to the museum this summer.
Band members will be sporting new uniforms, which were paid for by UL Lafayette. Earlier this year, Taylor conducted an online poll to enable fans to help choose the uniform design. More than 5,000 votes were cast.
During the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the band will play “some Christmas tunes, some Cajun tunes and some zydeco tunes,” Taylor said.
It will also perform “Let the Good Times Roll “in Herald Square, which is at the end of the parade route. “We felt that song best represents us, our community, our culture and our state,” Taylor said.
To make a donation, call Dr. Brian Taylor, band director, at (337) 482-5157 or go to http://tinyurl.com/ulbandtomacys-com