Dec. 7 of this year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and since 1998, the Waikiki Holiday Parade has commemorated the attack and honored Pearl Harbor survivors.
There are 30 mainland bands that are invited to march in the parade each year and this year, That Altus Band will be one of the 30.
On Nov. 25, That Altus Band will join 29 other bands from around the United States, as well as local Hawaiian bands, military units, local officials and dignitaries in a march down Kalakaua Avenue along Waikiki Beach.
“This is a huge honor,” said That Altus Band Head Director Mary Runyan. “There is only one band from Oklahoma invited and we’re the one band. We’ll be giving two concerts and marching in the parade. We’ll be giving a concert at the USS Missouri and then we’ll be giving a concert at a wreath-laying ceremony at the USS Arizona.”
The parade is about more than just marching. It also serves as an educational experience the students will not soon forget.
Students will learn about this important event in U.S. history as well as have opportunities to tour the island and learn about Polynesian culture at the Polynesian Culture Center — Hawaii’s number one attraction.
The students will get to meet Pearl Harbor veterans and ask questions of those who survived that fateful day, while taking in all that the week’s events have to offer.
This trip has been years in the making. In February 2014, Runyan was contacted by the parades organizer — the late Jake Peppers — and invited them to march in the parade for the 75th anniversary.
Runyan’s band came highly recommended from several college band directors and having known several band directors in the State of Oklahoma who had taken their band on previous trips to march in the parade, Runyan jumped at the opportunity.
The process took a meeting with then principal Dr. Haught, a meeting with the superintendent and two school board meetings to gain the necessary approval to begin fundraising for the trip.
Her band has been fundraising for more than two years now, trying to raise as much money as they can to fund the trip, but they still need the help of the community to reach their goal.
There will be 116 students and parents going on the trip and the cost is roughly $3,000 per student.
The band is thankful to those who have donated money so far and are still accepting donations for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
If one would like to donate, contact Runyan at the Altus High School Band Room at 580-481-2664, or send donations to Altus High School Band at Altus High School. All gifts are tax-exempt donations and everything is welcome and appreciated.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.