Saturday, June 23, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on September 13th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 28 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 28

Panthers go to Washington: Pioneer Valley's marching band is raising funds for performance in U.S. Capitol next year


The Pioneer Valley Marching Panther PRIDE Band got some great news earlier this year—they were selected from among dozens of high school marching bands to represent the state of California in a Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C., next year.

Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino nominated the band, Pioneer Valley High School Director of Bands Cindy Wehlander told the Sun, to represent both the city and state at the American Veterans Center's National Memorial Day Parade. But that was just the beginning of the process; the band still needed to send an audition and more, Wehlander explained.

The Pioneer Valley Marching Panther PRIDE Band is almost 100 students strong. The band is currently raising money for a trip to Washington, D.C., to perform for a Memorial Day parade next year.

"They select bands based on an audition video, recommendations, director interviews, past accomplishments, adjudication results from parades and festivals and things like that," she said. "And then they bring together all these bands from across the country, and for the parade that we're going to be a part of, it's a nationally televised parade, so we're excited about that."

The Pioneer Valley Marching Panther PRIDE Band—the PRIDE stands for passion, respect, integrity, dedication, and excellence—is just about the largest it has ever been, Wehlander explained. The band is now nearly 100 students strong, including the drum line and color guard.

So now, the program is faced with the costs of flying the band and their instruments out to the U.S. Capitol and all the associated expense of visiting a faraway place for several days. The fundraising began as soon as the band found out they clinched the performance spot in the parade, Wehlander said.

"We're basically doing fundraiser after fundraiser after fundraiser," she said. "We got the nomination in May, so we've basically got a year."

Wehlander said that the estimated cost for students to make the performance is $1,500 each, so at nearly 100 students in the ensemble, they're going to need almost $150,000.

So far the group has done several fundraiser events. They've got a T-shirt sponsorship wrapping up, they're accepting gift card donations, and are always open to cash donations made by community members or organizations. They've also been collecting recyclable bottles and cans at football games to help raise the money.

"We are going to approach as many different people and organizations that we can think of to help these kids get there," Wehlander said. "And any donation people want to give, we will happily send a 'thank you' note."

Help out
The Pioneer Valley Marching Panther PRIDE Band is accepting cash and other donations for its trip to Washington, D.C., next year for a Memorial Day parade performance. More information is available at

Wehlander said that the chance for her students to represent Santa Maria and the state of California at the parade is a huge milestone for the students as musicians. They're also going to get to visit several museums and take in a concert while they're there.

"It's a great opportunity for these kids, a lot who have never been anywhere like that," she said. "Most of them have not been on a plane before, so this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of them."

And after a performance of the national anthem at a recent football game, Pioneer's band director has no doubt that the band is ready for the task.

"In all my years of band directing, that was the best sound I've heard ["The Star-Spangled Banner"], so the bar is high," Wehlander said. "We've got a great bunch of kids, so I just hope we can get enough money raised to get them out there; they just really deserve it."

Managing Editor Joe Payne hopes the band raises every last dollar. Contact him at

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