Saturday, November 24, 2001

The color guard of the Orange Express marching band
from Tahlequah High School in Tahlequah, Okla., performed
last night as they marched down Kalakaua Avenue.

Visit to Pearl Harbor
inspires marching band

The Oklahoma teens overcame
a 'huge challenge' to get to Hawaii

By Lisa Asato

Members of an Oklahoma high school band said a trip to the Arizona Memorial inspired them to give the performance of their lives at a Waikiki parade last night honoring the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

"I'll do my extra best to make sure I'm worthy of being here," said David Hallum, a drum major with Oklahoma's Tahlequah Orange Express marching band.

After preparing for a year, the school's 133 band members performed yesterday morning at the USS Arizona and USS Missouri and again last night at the DoubleTree Alana Third Annual Waikiki Holiday Parade.

For the band from northeastern Oklahoma, the trip almost never happened.

Parents said the majority of the band members come from low-income families. Having to raise a quarter of a million dollars in a town of 17,000 was a "huge, huge challenge," said Principal Gary McClure.

The Orange Express marching band from Tahlequah High
School of Tahlequah, Okla., marched down Kalakaua Avenue
last night in a parade.

"When the plane took off in Oklahoma City, when it began to move, there was an applause from the students that the trip was actually going to happen," said band director Harvey Price, adding that it was the first plane ride for about 60 percent of the students.

"Especially when we landed in Hawaii, there was a big cheer -- we had made it."

Countless fund-raisers and community contributions, including veterans groups, Oklahoma state lawmakers and donations from Hawaii, helped make the difference.

Price said a Sept. 5 Star-Bulletin article on the band's effort to raise money for the trip inspired about 75 to 100 isle residents to donate.

"We feel like we have an audience in Hawaii already just among the contributors who contributed to us," Price said. "I have a special place in my heart for the people that donated to make this trip possible."

Those contributions were divvied up among the students, each receiving $300 toward their trip and paying for all their meals, Price said. He said no student who worked to raise money was left behind.

The Tahlequah band was one of 11 bands selected to represent a ship that was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, including the USS Oklahoma.

Local high school and military bands and Pearl Harbor survivors also participated in last night's parade down Kalakaua Avenue.

Joan Bell, a parent of one of the band members, said watching the band perform at the memorials yesterday moved her to tears.

"I have shed so many tears today, it's just so patriotic," she said. "Especially after what happened in New York, this is a time for all of us to defend our country and to teach our children what it means to be Americans. That's what we hope the children will bring back with them."

Emerging from the Arizona tour, band member Hallum said he was shaken to learn that there are servicemen still entombed in the ship's hull.

"Being here, it just put (the parade) in a different meaning. It really did," he said.

Sophomore Jamie Bone said she had a new appreciation for the veterans and expected the parade to be "extremely emotional" for her.

"I'm going to be putting so much emotion, effort (into it)," she said. "I'm going to play better than I've ever played before."

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