CHURCH HILL — They’ve been practicing “I’m Shipping up to Boston” for weeks, but on Thursday members of the Volunteer High School band are shipping up to New York City to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
On Tuesday evening, the band participated in its last two hour rehearsal in preparation for performing in the Big Apple.
However, participating in the two mile parade on Saturday is just the beginning of the exciting adventure that awaits more than 60 band members.
They leave Thursday at 6 p.m. via coach bus, and they return Monday evening, arriving home around 2 p.m Tuesday.
On Friday, band members will be visiting Radio City Music Hall for a one hour tour, then spending some time in the Rockefeller Center area of Manhattan.
That evening, they will dine at Cucina and Company, which is known for Mediterranean/Italian cuisine.
Following the parade Saturday, they will take a dinner cruise on the Hudson River at night, and on Sunday the band will attend a Broadway performance of “Wicked” and visit Times Square in the afternoon and evening.
And on Monday before leaving for home, they will visit the Statue of Liberty, 911 Memorial, World Trade Center Memorial, and then go up into the new One World Trade Center.
Band director Chris Andies picked “I’m Shipping up to Boston,” by the Dropkick Murhpys, which has a distinct Irish flair and was featured prominently in the movie “The Departed.”
“We had listened to several groups performing (in the parade) in previous years on YouTube, and you would hear a lot of traditional Irish tunes coming down the street,” Andies said. “There was a couple of bands that would perform ‘I’m Shipping up to Boston,’ and it seemed like a really catchy tune that’s taken off in the past few years at stadium events. It seems to be a real crowd pleaser, and that’s what we like to do.”
To prepare for the two mile march, the band has been taking four laps around the Volunteer parking lot during evening practices.
Assistant band director Allie Mitchell said the band has the tune down pretty good. It’s just a matter of endurance.
“They’ve played the parade tune quite a bit, and they’ve marched in parades before,” Mitchell said. “This is just about their upkeep and how they’re going to be able to perform in the very last half-mile. These two-hour long rehearsals get them prepared for what the actual performance is going to be like.”
Over the past decade, the Volunteer band has traveled to several prestigious events, but this is its first trip to New York City.
The band performed at the 2007 All-State Sugar Bowl, the 2011 Outback Bowl, the Disney World Electric Light Parade, the 2014 McDonald’s Thanksgiving parade in Chicago, and the 2017 Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
It won first place overall at the 2007 Sugar Bowl Marching Band Competition and was named grand champion of the parade and marching band competitions at the 2011 Outback Bowl.