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franklin county times

RHS band to perform in national parade

When the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade takes the streets of Washington, D.C., in April 2017, a little bit of Russellville will be part of the celebration.

The Russellville High School Marching Hundred Band will march in the parade as part of the national festival that commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.

Band director Jeremy Willis said the band was contacted to participate by a parade coordinator who formerly worked with the band when it was invited to the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade.

“Today’s National Cherry Blossom Festival has grown from modest beginnings to the nation’s greatest springtime celebration,” explains the event website. “School children reenacted the initial planting and other activities, holding the first “festival” in 1927. Civic groups helped expand the festivities in 1935. The Festival expanded to two weeks in 1994 to accommodate a diverse schedule during the blooming period. Growing again in 2012, the 100-year anniversary of the gift was marked with a five-week celebration. Today, the Festival spans four weekends and welcomes more than 1.5 million people to enjoy diverse programming and the trees. Over the years, millions have participated in the annual event that heralds spring in the nation’s capital.”

The band will take a three-day trip to participate in the massive national festival, making time to see the sights in D.C. in addition to marching in the parade. To cap off the trip, plans are in the works to make a stop at Busch Gardens on the way home and give the students a chance to have fun following long hours of representing Russellville well by performing at a high level.

Willis said he has not yet set musical selections for the parade, but those will be chosen soon, as they must be approved by the parade committee.

For this prestigious occasion, the band will be fundraising to cover the cost of the trip. Opportunities to donate will be announced as information is made available.