Backpack donations

East Limestone High School section leaders, drum majors and field commanders pose with backpacks for students in need, which were collected by the band during band camp this year. The backpacks will be shared with Limestone County Churches Involved, Piney Chapel Elementary School, Creekside Elementary and Primary schools and East Limestone High. ELHS Band Director Jennifer Janzen said 92 backpacks were collected.

More than a hundred members of the East Limestone High School marching band are getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this week as they travel to New York City to join the nation's largest Veterans Day event.

The New York City Veterans Day Parade, produced by the United War Veterans Council, will take place at noon Monday. The annual parade honors veterans, active military and those who serve them every year, but this year's parade will also commemorate 100 years of Veterans Day celebrations.

East band members, their parents, directors and even a few members' siblings will be there, too.

“I am so excited,” said clarinet section leader and East senior Zachary Tribble. “... I lost my grandfather this year, so it's really important to me to be able to represent him there.”

Tribble is just one of the many students with a connection to the military, according to band director Jennifer Janzen. Other students have aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings who are veterans or active military, and even the keynote speaker at the school's Veterans Day program Wednesday was a band mom.

Eighth-grader and trumpet player Ashton Barber said his mom, also a veteran, would be one of the 98 parents joining the students on their trip. The group will arrive Saturday in New York City with time to explore Central Park, then spend Sunday on an Ellis Island tour, at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and on a dance and dinner cruise.

They'll also get a chance to break into smaller groups to check out the Big Apple. When asked which spot he wanted to visit the most, Barber said he was “probably going to the Nintendo store.”

Tribble, meanwhile, said he was excited to try “a lot of really good food.”

“I'm in the culinary program, and that's what my group is really looking forward to doing — going to eat some good food,” he said. “We're going to go to Central Park, go to the zoo, really just kind of explore all that New York has to offer.”

Then it's back to business on Monday. The parade route is 1.2 miles long and travels along Fifth Avenue from 26th Street to 46th Street. An opening ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with a moment of silence in Madison Square Park.

A youth tribute march will take place during the ceremony along the parade route, with the ceremony itself ending just before noon. The NYC Veterans Day parade will begin at noon.

While a simple stroll of the parade route may only take half an hour, an estimated 20–30,000 participants have made the parade a 3.5-hour event. Those in Limestone County can visit https://uwvc.org/vetsday to live-stream the parade and watch the Pride of East Limestone honor its hometown veterans and service members.

Limestone Countians can also like “The East Limestone Band” on Facebook or visit https://eastlimestoneband.com for updates on this and other accomplishments by the band.

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