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Community support brings in new band uniforms

The Mercer Island High School Marching Band will step into the 21st century next season after a community-wide effort to pay for brand new uniforms reached the fundraising goal last week.

Purchased in 1979 and literally falling apart at the seams, the maroon-plumed shakos [hats], jacket overlays, bell-bottomed pants and bibs will be replaced by 350 new band uniforms in time for the Islanders’ first football game on Sept. 11.

Once all the checks come in, supporters expect that at least $130,000 in donations have been raised from the community.

“If ever there was a statement about the support of the arts by the Mercer Island community, this is it,” said MIHS Band Director Parker Bixby. “This is yet another example of their amazing support.”

The MIHS marching band is a visible part of the community, employing nearly a quarter of the high school student body. It also represents the Island abroad in events such as marching in the 2006 Tournament of the Roses parade in California or performing in China in 2007 — and giving students a wide variety of experiences.

“We have an emphasis on being fun and as entertaining as we can be for our audience,” Bixby said.

When school and band officials realized that next year’s freshman class would swell their ranks beyond the number of uniforms available, the decision was made to finally replace the uniforms sporting mismatched buttons, duct-taped pant legs and broken zippers and start anew. Only the concert jackets will be retained — the rest of the uniforms will be sold off as mementos.

To raise the money needed, parents like Terry Pottmeyer started the “March to March” fundraising campaign in October and reached over 280 individual donations. But their largest donor, she said, turned out to be the students themselves who were interested in leaving a legacy to the students behind them.

“There’s something wonderful about that, that the young people were biggest contributors,” she said.

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