ALBERTVILLE, Ala. -- In just a few months the Albertville Aggie Band will represent the southeast in the 2018 Rose Parade for the second time. The band is the largest in its area, and the goal is to have every single member make the trip. So, the nearly 300 members are working to raise enough money to do just that.
Students walked across the wet practice field at Albertville High School early Tuesday morning. Even though it was still early enough for breakfast, the temperature held true to its Southern summer criteria. As the mass of students assembled into straight lines the loudspeakers on the sidelines crackled to life.
The Albertville Aggie Band's day-long practice was underway. "Currently we have just shy of 300 in the high school band, nine through 12. It's the biggest Albertville band in history," explained Albertville High School Director of Bands Chris Lindley.
The band is practicing for the football season, which on August 1, is within a tantalizing yet perhaps daunting reach. They're also preparing for the 2018 Rose Parade, which will mark the Aggie Band's second appearance since 2011.
"With the Rose Parade it's essentially a requirement that every student in the band goes. When you're doing the granddaddy of them all, you've got to make sure they all go to the parade. You don't want to leave anybody at home," Lindley said.
Fundraising and practice go hand in hand. The band sold yard signs as one of the fundraisers. Now hundreds of them are brightly scattered throughout the city, showing the community support from Albertville and the surrounding cities is - in the band's words - incredible.
But, the trip doesn't come cheaply. "Our students are working hard, but our median income here in Albertville is about $31,000. It's a tough task. Our trip price per student is $2,046, per student," Lindley said.
"Five months from today, we'll be stepping off into the Rose Parade and that just blows us all away, that we've got to have all of this money in five months to be able to go," said band member Justin Kilpatrick.
The band's efforts so far aren't in vain. Between fundraisers and generous donations, the band put a dent in the price tag. "We're working every day to try to make sure we get every student there," Lindley said.
They still have a way to go. The band has some big fundraisers coming up in the next few months, and every penny counts.
"It's the trip of a lifetime, it's the performance of a lifetime. We were the only southeastern United States band invited to the parade and one of only eight high schools in the entire country," Lindley said, "So when you're invited, you go, and you take them all."
You can call the band room at Albertville High School to learn how to donate. That number is (256) 894 - 5005.