More than 60 people, including Van-Far Band members and family, traveled to Orlando, Florida last week as the students had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform during halftime of the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Van-Far was among 27 other high school bands from throughout the United States to participate in the event.
The band rehearsed with the mass band for five to six hours, split into two sessions and learned from nationally acclaimed adjudicators.
During their five minute halftime performance, the group played KISS’ “Shout It Out Loud,” “Mustang Sally,” and Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe.”
While in Orlando, Florida, the band stayed at the Double Tree Hilton Inn.
The group arrived on the evening of December 26 and spent the entire next day at Universal Stu-dios to enjoy the rides and other sites that include the themed areas Harry Potter Land, Jurassic Park, Marvel Comics, Simpsons, Men In Black, and more.
Students enjoyed some pool time in the evening before the next morning’s rehearsal at Lake Highland Preparatory School.
They returned to Universal Studios in the afternoon before more pool time in the evening.
On game day, a morning rehearsal was followed by lunch and travel to the Citrus Bowl Stadium, arriving at 2 p.m.
The group enjoyed the first half of a football game between nationally-ranked Baylor and North Carolina before playing for a crowd of approximately 41,000 in attendance. After the game, the band boarded a bus and headed home, arriving at Van-Far at about 5 p.m. on December 30.
Van-Far Band Director Alex Cucciarre said he was thankful for the support the band has received from the community to help the students enjoy the experience. He was also thankful for Booster Club Treasurer Jennifer Young for her assistance in keeping things organized.
“The community showed a lot of support with our fundraising efforts and private donations,” said Cucciarre, whose parents and brothers also traveled from Ohio for the event. “…It was a long process and showed how the community could come together for something as big as this. We had a lot of support from the school, Mrs. (Cindy) Pirch, Dr. (Stephen) Hunter, and other teachers have been supporting at concerts as well. It was quite amazing just all the support that was sent our way for all of this. I was overwhelmed, still getting checks three days before we left. They believe in the rebirth of this program and to me that is just incredible.”