TAHLEQUAH band seeks funds for Hawaii trip

Thursday, August 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) _ Members of the Tahlequah High School marching band have a chance at a once-in-a-lifetime trip. What they don't have yet are the funds to pull it off.

The 175-member band is one of 12 selected from throughout the United States to perform in Hawaii to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Each band will represent one of the ships bombed on Dec. 7, 1941. The battleship USS Oklahoma was one of those attacked.

Band members, excited about the opportunity, have met with Pearl Harbor survivors in Oklahoma and done extensive research to ensure their uniforms, flags and costumes appear authentic for that era.

The cost is $1,500 for each student to make the Nov. 20-26 trip _ a total of $262,500. The deadline is looming for them to pay half their expenses to secure accommodations and airfare.

Band members have raised money by helping set up company picnics, and selling chocolate, sausage and a dozen other things. They have manned fireworks stands and held car washes. Corporate sponsors have been tapped, and the band applied for a $60,000 grant.

``We are fund-raising fools,'' said Terri Grissom, a band parent and fund-raising coordinator.

But so far, the band has raised $61,000 _ less than one-fourth of what is needed.

``This is it,'' Grissom said. ``We're really grasping at straws now. We're trying to make sure all the kids get to go. Tell us where to be and we'll work or do something to help us get the money raised.''

Of the band members, 53 percent are American Indian and 63 percent come from low-income families, Grissom said. Family support will be minimal, at least financially.

Some members, Grissom said, never had been to a mall until they went to a food court during a recent band competition.

``Can you imagine what it'll be like for the majority of the kids to get on an airplane and fly to Hawaii?'' she said. ``That's something they probably never thought was possible or their parents never thought was possible.''