$125,000 fundraising effort begins for North band to play in presidential inauguration parade

The high school marching band from Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s alma mater has been promised an invitation to the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration day parade.

The Sound of North marching band, its band boosters and supporters are attempting to raise $125,000 to send the Columbus North band and marching band staff to Washington, D.C., for two days to participate in the parade celebrating the inauguration of Pence — who graduated from North in 1977 — and President-elect Donald Trump.

Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, first approached Pence about the idea during the vice president-elect’s Veterans Day appearance at Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh.

North band director Bill Stultz had planted the seed after the election with Smith, who replied that he would be talking to Pence at Camp Atterbury.

“So after the ceremony, I told him (Pence) that his high school band wanted to perform in the parade and he just lit up,” Smith said. He told me to “make this happen, Milo.” And I told him, “I might need a little help.”

Since then, Smith said he has been in contact with the inauguration parade committee, which has assured him that if the vice president-elect wants the band there and the band wants to come, an invitation for The Sound of North to march in the parade would be in the works.

However, accepting that invitation is subject to coming up with enough money to pay for the trip, Stultz said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids,” Smith said. “We need to make this happen.”

Smith is spearheading the fund-raising campaign targeted at individual, corporate and private donors. The band hopes to come up with the $125,000 in December to fund the trip for the 200 band members and staff.

“We can’t ask the kids to come up with those kind of donations at Christmas-time,” Stultz said of the effort.

The fundraising letter Smith and band boosters are using has broken down the math for people thinking of donating. With a cost of $625 per student, that’s:

  • $6,250 to pay for 10 band members.
  • $12,500 to pay for 20 band members
  • $25,000 to pay for 40 band members.

If enough corporate and private donations come through, the trip also will include some Washington, D.C., sightseeing opportunities, the band director said.

Stultz said he hasn’t really considered what the band might play during the parade, although he said it will undoubtedly be patriotic.

In the meantime, Smith said Monday he had been on the phone all day contacting individuals and corporations seeking monetary help for the band.

“I tried calling Tony Stewart and he prefers texts, so I texted him and asked him to call,” Smith said.

And the newly retired NASCAR legend did.

“He called me and told me, ‘Yeah, I’ll help,'” Smith said of Stewart, a 1989 North alum who was inducted Sept. 9 into the Bull Dog Alumni Association Hall of Fame at Columbus North.

“I told him, ‘Well, we need $125,000,'” Smith deadpanned, adding that he wasn’t releasing how much Stewart was pledging.

“He was traveling, but he said he was going to help and send me a text later about it,” Smith said.

So far, Smith said he has received commitments for well over $10,000 and said the effort is just getting started.

“I’ve got people helping me — band parents, friends,” he said.

An account has been established at Salin Bank to accept donations under the title “Columbus North Band Boosters inaugural parade fund.”

The Presidential Inaugural Parade is coordinated by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which includes members from all branches of the U.S. armed forces. The parade, for which a time is yet to be announced, is free and open to the public on inauguration day.

The parade will travel along Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and 17th streets. It typically features military regiments, citizen groups, marching band and floats. In 2013, Indiana was represented by Culver Academies Black Horse Troop, which has been in the inaugural parade more than a dozen times.

How to help

An account has been set up at Salin Bank under “Columbus North Band Boosters inaugural parade fund.”

Salin Bank locations include:

  • 3501 Central Ave., Columbus
  • 655 Third St., Columbus
  • 3950 25th St., Columbus
  • 100 W. Main Cross St., Edinburgh

Anyone with questions is invited to email:

About the parade

To learn more about the 2017 inaugural day parade, visit: www.inaugural.senate.gov/days-events/inaugural-parade