On January 1, 2024, while millions of people are preparing to watch some of the best college football games later in the day, approximately 250 students from the Niceville High School Eagle Pride Marching Band will be representing Okaloosa County on the national stage by marching in the 2024 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
Annually, the parade attracts over 37 million television viewers and approximately 700,000 spectators. For most bands, even getting a second invitation to march is an accomplishment; the Eagle Pride joins a rare group of organizations invited back for a third time.
Getting the students, chaperones, and directors to the parade is no small feat. The students are responsible for raising $3250 per person for the trip. The cost includes a flight in a charter airplane from Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport to Los Angeles, charter bus transportation around the city, hotel accommodations, and meals during the six-day trip. Over the last few months, students have been fundraising for the trip in various ways, such as a Daily Dose fundraiser, Super 50/50 drawing, and sales of items such as chocolate bars and spa gift cards.
In addition, local organizations and businesses have stepped up to provide sponsorships to offset some of the cost.
However, one of the most visible fundraisers of the year will be this coming weekend at Niceville High School. The band is sponsoring a Vendor Fair in the high school parking lot. The event will take place on Saturday, May 13, from 9AM to 1PM. It will feature over 35 local small businesses, four Food Trucks, and drawings for donated items…including a Caribbean cruise for two donated by Grueninger Music Tours, the travel agency assisting the band with their itinerary. In addition to the drawings, a portion of the sales from the food trucks will be donated to the ensemble.
Admission to the event is free.
The event will be held in the Niceville High School Gymnasium in inclement weather. For more information and a complete list of vendors, please visit the event webpage on Facebook.
In preparation for their performance at the Rose Parade, the band will rehearse from mid-July and continue through Christmas Break. Each student will dedicate over 200 hours to perfecting their music and marching techniques.
In August, the band plans to host a Pickle Ball tournament and food truck festival at the Niceville Senior Center. If you are a local business interested in being a corporate sponsor for the band, please go to the Eagle Pride sponsorship website and click on the sponsorship link.