DeKalb school’s band to perform in 2017 Rose Parade

Martin Luther King High School’s “Kings of Halftime” marching band has gone right to work to drum up the nearly half million dollars it will take to get to California for the 2017 Rose Parade.

Band Director Travis Kimber said fundraising events have been planned to offset some costs. Parents and other supporters have started pages on fundraising sites such as to generate donations for the trip.

“We’re already full steam ahead,” he said Friday.

The band from the Lithonia high school will be the only Georgia representative in the parade, which will feature 19 bands from the United States, Mexico and Japan.

The New Year’s Day event began in 1890 as a way to promote Pasadena agriculture, according to the Tournament of Roses.

Kimber said he began collecting photos, videos and letters of recommendation for the band to be considered for the parade in 2014. Pasadena Tournament of Roses President Brad Ratliff said bands are selected based on criteria including musicianship, marching ability and entertainment or special interest value.

Kimber said the band is participating in Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 12, as well as hosting a black-tie fundraiser at Morehouse College in April. It’s also hosting a battle of the bands competition in September, all to help finance the westward jaunt.

It won’t be the first time the band has performed on such a grand stage. The group traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, for the 2006 Field Band Foundation’s South African National Championships and to Dallas in 2008 for the Cotton Bowl.

Since its start in 2001, more than $50 million in college music scholarships have been received by students participating in the Martin Luther King High band, Kimber said.

“That’s what we do,” he said. “Give them a chance to see a broader perspective, something other than on the east side of Atlanta.”