Opinion

Editorial | A sound investment

The very fine Mercer Island High School Marching Band had a rare disappointment last weekend. It was not chosen to march in the Jan. 20 presidential inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. Instead, the 150-member Evergreen High School Marching Band from Vancouver, Wash., was selected and will represent our state in the parade. This group is different from the Islander band in a significant way. Members must audition to participate. Here, all who want to join and work hard are included. Under the charismatic leadership of directors David Bentley, Parker Bixby and Ryan Lane, along with the help of dozens of parents, the band is a well-respected, well-oiled machine made up of enthusiastic and dedicated musicians.

This winter, despite knowing that the timing might prove to be a bit awkward, a group of parents has quietly begun the process of raising money for new uniforms for the band. With the band expected to grow even larger next fall, it no longer makes sense to keep ordering the old-style uniforms at $475 each. It will take several months to select, manufacture and fit new uniforms. To have the band outfitted for next fall means that the effort needs to begin now.

The 30-year-old band uniforms still look good from a distance, in part because of the musicianship and discipline instilled in its members. However, closer inspection reveals that the old wool uniforms are in tatters. After years on and off the football field, in the rain and mud, stuffed into backpacks and trombone cases, it is time to consider something more practical. Just as sharp — but a bit more hip. Will it be expensive? You bet. But the uniforms will outfit band members for 20 or more years to come.

To be sure, the community has helped the band in many ways. When the band was selected to march in the prestigious Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., in January of 2006, the community helped out where it could, proud that the band was representing Mercer Island. Now it is time to help again.

The marching band is the face of Mercer Island. Our youth are the Island’s finest asset. It is only fitting that our young people appear as fine as the hopes invested in them.

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Along with preparing and hoping for an invitation to the inaugural parade, band members have been organizing a food drive to collect food for the needy. They will be fanning out across the Island this Saturday. Welcome them and support this effort to help others.

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