Vernon marching band selected for parade
Vernon. The Vernon Township High School Marching Band was chosen to represent New Jersey in 2020 U.S. Memorial Day Parade.


By Mike Zummo

Vernon Township School District Superintendent Karen D'Avino told the Board of Education on June 6 that the high school marching band has been chosen to participate in next year's Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C.
The band was nominated by U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer.
“It’s not just the region, it’s the whole state,” Superintendent Karen D’Avino said.
The unanticipated selection caused some concerns for band director Max Taylor, especially the hefty price tag, up to about $27,000 for the band of about 100 to go.
One of the issues, D’Avino said is the band’s big trip for the 2019-20 school year was to Walt Disney World for five performances and seven workshops.
One possible solution was to ask if Vernon’s selection could be postponed to 2021, but school board president Brad Sparta took that off the table because that could be seen as a slap in the face to Gottheimer.
Taylor also suggested the band drive down the morning of the parade, but that isn’t allowed as according to the company that coordinates the bands, Music Celebrations International, the band needs to be in Washington, D.C., the night before as the parade is not only televised on national television, but streamed to service members around the world.
While not asking the district for money, he pulled back on competitions and adjusted the band’s schedule to allow for the trip.
“If we have this honor and we’re given this honor, we need to try to make this happen,” school board member Kelly Mitchell said.
Mitchell suggested taking the band’s case to local businesses and she remembers the cost of sending her own children on long trips for choir. Parents are already fundraising and paying monthly installments for the Disney trip.
“I don’t know that the parents are going to be able to come up with that again,” Mitchell said. “I think as a community we need to make that happen. There are business owners that want to help but are never really asked. Because this is national event and a big honor, they would love to do this.”
The district has already put a $1,500 down payment down for the nomination. With the school’s band being selected, that money will go toward the overall expense.
The Board of Education was comfortable with supporting up to half the cost after seeing if Gottheimer can secure any aid and whatever fundraising efforts are done.
“We have to do things on a case-by-case basis and that’s what this is,” Sparta said. “I think you have pretty clear direction from the board that we want them to go and we are willing to put some support to it. I think they also have to shoulder some burden also and we have to move from there.”