The Student News Site of Homewood High School

The Homewood Tricorne

The Homewood Tricorne

The Student News Site of Homewood High School

The Homewood Tricorne

St. Paddy’s parade preparation

A look at the logistics of planning an international band trip
Emerson Buck
Band uniforms have been inspected and repaired. A clover has been added for the St. Patricks day parade.

If traveling to Europe with over 300 band students sounds chaotic, imagine organizing that trip. Homewood High School’s band director Chis Cooper has been battling with the logistics for two years. 

The band members will fly on 11 different flights, departing from Birmingham or Atlanta, with connections in Charlotte, Dallas, Philadelphia and Germany, all with the final destination of Dublin. 

William Clay, Homewood’s band administrative assistant, has played a major role in planning the details of the trip. 

“The key to a monumental trip like this one is to really break everything up into stages,” Clay said. 

Teacher and administrator chaperones from all five schools will be dispersed throughout the planes. Three school nurses will also come on the trip.

These flights were booked 11 months in advance. 

“Our tour company booked [the flights] the first day they were able to,” Cooper said. 

Homewood High School Marching Band has been using Grueninger Tours for four years, the band is the company’s biggest client.

The band will ship its instruments on a separate flight to Ireland in late February. A freight company out of Chicago will send a truck down to pick up all of the instruments. 

Since the band students will be without their instruments, they will spend these few weeks getting ahead in their classes.

“All the boring, tedious work that needs to be done to make everything run as smoothly as possible usually comes across me at some point,” Clay said. 

All of the high school bands performing in the parade from the United States will ship their instruments on the same cargo plane. The cost of the shipment totaled to $2500 for HHS. 

Cooper worked with Celtic Tours out of Ireland to retrieve the instruments when they arrive in Dublin.  

Clay says that although Homewood has taken many trips, planning to travel internationally creates unique challenges.

All students attending the trip had to ensure their passports were up to date. 

On the second day of the trip, the band will retrieve the instruments and will potentially have a quick practice. 

“We want to make sure we have all of our equipment there, in case something doesn’t arrive the tour company can work on getting us something to play before the parade,” Cooper said.  

“There aren’t very many gigantic bands in Ireland, but hopefully only one or two pieces are going to be missing.”

Students are in charge of packing their own uniforms. Cooper has planned for the potential loss of a few bags and will pack four or five extra uniforms. 

A clover was added to the jacket of the band uniforms to commemorate the occasion. A group of band parents and grandparents is checking all of the uniform’s 32 buttons as well as the hems. 

They are also double-checking to ensure there are no rips or tears. The hat trims are being repainted by hand. Clovers are also being added on top of the Star Spangle Girls’ hats they dance with. 

After flying into Dublin, buses will transport students to Killarney, which is in the southwest corner of Ireland. The band will spend two and a half days touring small towns and will visit the famous Cliffs of Moher.

After visiting Killarney, the band will bus back to Dublin where they will tour for two more days and visit a museum to learn about the history of Ireland. 

Cooper thinks the band will enjoy it. 

“I am not a museum person, and I loved this museum,” Cooper said. “I think kids will like it more than they think they will.”

Band members will also have some free time on Ireland’s famous shopping street, Grafton Street. 

After all of the touring is over, on the last day, the band will perform in the parade. The next day, the band will depart from Dublin. 

Four of the trips are round trips, but the others aren’t. Aside from the round-trip flights, two large flights will bring students home. One flight with predominantly seniors leaves late at night the last day and has a layover in Germany. 

Those students will spend an extra night in Munich and depart on two flights from Munich the next morning. 

Homewood’s band committee is very thankful for all the help received from parents, students, administrators, etc. 

“There’s that saying, ‘it takes a village,’ and luckily in classic Homewood fashion, the whole village showed up ready to help,” Clay said. 

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