“This is a way to not just represent our band. It’s a way to represent our school and our community, as well as the state of New Jersey and the United States as a whole in a really positive way.” -Dr. Darren Gage, Director, Glen Ridge Marching Band.
It’s been a labor of love. That’s how Glen Ridge Band Director Darren Gage describes Glen Ridge Marching Band’s invitation to march in the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland. “We had been inquiring about doing this for many years,” Gage says. “It wasn’t until this year that everything with the parade organizers, the tour company and the students seemed to come together. The timing just seems perfect.”
Preparations for the March 14-20 trip will begin after a busy fall marching band season that will include seven USBand competitions and five home football game halftime shows. The music performed during the Ireland parade will be selected in part by the students and arranged by Dr. Gage, who says he hopes to prepare something that incorporates both American and Irish traditions. As to the trip itself, Gage says he sees it as team-building for the entire program. “I always felt our marching band could have an international parade trip, something really special to celebrate our camaraderie and hard work, as well as to show what we have to offer.”
The Glen Ridge Music Parents Association will also be playing a part by raising funds for the journey. GRMPA holds several traditional fundraisers, including the annual fruit sale and pancake breakfast, with proceeds going to support the marching band, jazz band, concert band, choral and choir programs. This year, the parents’ group will be adding a few extra events to help cover the cost of the Ireland trip. GRMPA President David Cohen says, “As parents we’re really proud of the efforts our students put in, working hundreds of hours in practice over the summer, after school and on weekends. The invitation to march in Ireland is great recognition not only for this year’s band, but all the hard work of bands that have gone before them, as well as the dedication of Dr. Gage and his staff.”
The first big fundraising event will be a September 14 “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” gala that will include Irish food, music, drinks and a silent auction. It will be held at the Glen Ridge Country Club. Tickets can be purchased online or in person from a GRMPA member. The Music Parents Association will be posting more information about the trip, further fundraisers and the music program itself on its website, GRMPA.org and on the GRMPA Facebook Page.