For members of Harlem High School’s marching band, halftime at the Allstate Sugar Bowl will be the highlight of the game.
The band will be among 16 high school bands providing part of in the game’s halftime entertainment tonight, said band director Stacey Wade, who has been in New Orleans with 45 students since Monday seeing the sights and preparing for the big game. The game kicks off at 8:30 p.m.
Wade said then high school group will perform a medley of Beatles tunes after the Oklahoma and Alabama bands leave the field at the Superdome.
“There are roughly 1,200 musicians and about another 1,000 dancers, flag twirlers, color guards, majorettes and that sort of thing,” he said “It is really a spectacle.”
He said the group, which includes some Harlem Middle School students has had two practices – one “marathon” session Wednesday and another at the Superdome this morning. Stacey said he was being assisted by Harlem Middle band director Alda Wilmoth and nine other adult chaperons.
“We probably have another dozen (parents) that made it down here on their own,” he said.
One of those parents is Tim Farr, whose daughters, Gabby, a senior who serves as Harlem’s drum major, and Maddy, a sophomore, made the trip.
Gabby will be playing clarinet, and Maddy’s instrument is a mellophone, Farr said.
“It’s sort of like a trumpet,” he said.
Farr said the group has kept a busy schedule this week, seeing historical sights and tourist attractions between practices. The adults were doing their best to keep up, he said.
“We are walking back to hotel right now to make a hundred ham and turkey sandwiches, so they can eat, and then we are going to the aquarium,” Farr said Thursday morning.
Stacey said the band made the decision to take the Sugar Bowl trip in November 2012 and began raising money immediately.
“We raised in excess of $50,000,” he said. “That’s lots of corner donations drives in Harlem.
The group took chartered buses down to New Orleans early Monday and have been working on a jam-packed itinerary since. They’ve attended a jazz concert at Preservation Hall in the Fifth Quarter, enjoyed a paddleboat dinner cruise on the Mississippi and visited the National World War II museum, Stacey said.
“I am exhausted and the tiring part hasn’t even happened yet,” he said Thursday afternoon, while at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
“They’ve had a good time,” he said of the students. “They’ve had some experiences that they are going to take back and remember forever.”