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Band to march at Pearl Harbor

By Kathy McCabe
Globe Staff / November 10, 2011

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DANVERS - The Danvers High School Falcon Marching Band will travel to Honolulu this month to perform in a ceremony and parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The 140-member band will play patriotic songs, marches, and swing music popular in the World War II era during a performance on Nov. 22 at the USS Missouri, the battleship on which the Japanese surrendered to end the war. The band will also lay a wreath at the USS Arizona memorial, the resting place of the battleship that sank during the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing.

On the day after Thanksgiving, the band will march in the Waikiki Holiday Parade, a 2-mile route along the beach that salutes Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans.

“This is a special honor for our band,’’ said director Ron Parsons. “We’ll be the very first Massachusetts band ever to perform at a Pearl Harbor commemoration.’’

The Falcons are one of 12 high school bands from the continental United States invited to take part in the ceremony, a precursor to the official 70th anniversary on Dec. 7. Other bands from Hawaii and around the world also will take part, Parsons said.

The Waikiki Holiday Parade invited the band after seeing it perform in the 2010 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

“The [Waikiki] parade organizers saw us perform with the flag. They called and invited us,’’ Parsons said. “We were honored to accept.’’

It will cost about $3,000 per student to travel to Hawaii, the bulk of which is being covered by families, Parsons said. Fund-raising, including a golf tournament and flower sale, will be used to offset the cost of shipping instruments. The largest instruments are sousaphones and the heaviest are drum sets. The cost of shipping all the instruments is expected to be $18,000 to $20,000.

“The [instruments] are considered oversized luggage,’’ Parsons said. “It’s a steep fee, but we have to pay it.’’

Music selections will include “America the Beautiful,’’ “Stars and Stripes Forever,’’ and popular swing tunes such as “Let’s Dance’’ and “Sing, Sing, Sing.’’ The band has performed the music during halftime of football games this season.

Students also watched a video about Pearl Harbor to prepare them for their date with history.

“It had interviews with Pearl Harbor survivors, and survivors of the Arizona,’’ Parsons said. “It was pretty emotional. The kids have a very good understanding of what happened.’’

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @globekmccabe.