Marching bands joining forces had never been done before, at least among Cape Coral schools as far back as anyone's memory will take them.
For the last year, bands at Mariner and Cape Coral high schools have done just that. Both were nominated last year by then-State Rep. Trey Radel to perform in the Memorial Day Parade on Monday in Washington, D.C. They launched a combined effort since last September to raise more than $69,000 to cover their trip expenses.
When the fundraising effort came up a little short of its goal, the Cape Coral Community Foundation voted last week to donate the final $5,500 needed for the bands to make the trip.
"This is truly an awesome investment," said foundation board member Steve Riggs. "This will be a wonderful way to showcase our community to the rest of the world."
The 82-member bands board two charter buses at Cape Coral High School at 4 p.m. Saturday for their journey to the nation's capital.
Fundraising was a bit of a struggle at the beginning and there were times when we all wondered if it was going to happen," said Cape High band director Stacy Green. "When the Community Foundation stepped up it was a huge weight off everyone's shoulders. We absolutely thank them and all in the business community that stepped up and helped us with donations."
Green said the bands have one more combined rehearsal from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday at Cape High and anyone who wants to come hear them play is welcome.
"I think it was cool to team up as one big band instead of two little ones," said Mariner band director James Samz. "The thing I'm most excited about is having something positive up there to represent Southwest Florida. We have the hardest-working, most dedicated band students with the incredible opportunity to represent our area in D.C."
Monday's parade along a nearly one-mile stretch of Constitution Boulevard will be broadcast on the History Channel, Samz said.
The bands raised more than $64,000 for their trip with major fundraising events at Greenwell's Bat-A-Ball & Family Fun Park and Dine & Dance, a number of smaller events and performances at community events like the Holiday Festival of Lights. The Move For Music 5K Race at Lakes Park in March drew 246 runners, including runners here on vacation from northern climates.
"We'd like to do that (5K) again next year," said Samz. "This year it benefited our trip, but perhaps we can get other schools involved next year."