Douglas high band must raise $100,000 for inauguration
Douglas High School’s Fighting Tigers Band is invited to President Bush’s inauguration for the second time in a row.
Parents were surprised to learn the band was asked to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 20 inauguration.
“We’re the official band of George W. Bush,” Band Director Bill Zabelsky said.
Zabelsky said he didn’t learn of the invitation until he got a cell phone call at exactly 2:57 p.m. Thursday.
“When I was told by the inaugural committee we weren’t invited to be in the parade, they asked if we would be interested in doing something else,” Zabelsky said.
“I said sure, but I never told the kids because I didn’t want to disappoint them. But I got the call on my cell phone, and I saw it was from a 202 area code, which is Washington, D.C., so I took it outside. It was the inaugural committee asking if we would be what they call a ‘parade route act.'”
That was what the Tigers did when they went to the president’s 2001 inauguration so Zabelsky agreed.
He announced it to parents at the Winter in the Sierra concert Thursday night.
“We were all just thrilled,” said band parent Melanie Krause, mother of flautist Daniel Krause, 15. “We don’t know how we’re going to fund it, but just to be invited is such an honor.”
Zabelsky said the McQueen High School Lancers of Reno have been invited to march in the parade, and he has contacted them to find out if they can split the cost of a charter.
However, McQueen’s trip is now in doubt. Two large donations from education foundations that the band was counting on were denied last week. That leaves the band about $130,000 short of its goal of $160,000, according to McQueen band director Rick Moffit.
The Reno school has chosen to represent Nevada in the parade.
Funding must be secured by Friday or the trip will be off, Moffit said.
Zabelsky estimated the Douglas High Band has to raise $100,000 in the next few weeks to make the trip. He said they have $5,000 seed money to start.
Zabelsky said that learning of the invitation before the last day of school will help with the fund-raising.
“Last time, we found out after Christmas break started, and that was just nuts,” he said. “At least we had a day before school was out to organize.”
He met with parents Friday evening about the fund-raising.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “There are some band directors who never get to do this. It proves what a great program we have, starting at the elementary schools and going all the way to the dedication of the parents and kids.”
Zabelsky has been band director at Douglas High for 20 years and spent 25 years working for the school district.
“I have no plans to retire for at least the next three days,” he joked.
Kurt Hildebrand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 215.
Associated Press contributed to this story.