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Chestatee High band to play in New York City St. Patrick's Day parade
177 band members will march along with 65 other high schools
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The last time the Chestatee High School band performed in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade was in 2008. It will be performing there again this Friday.

Catch the parade

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be streamed live from from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.

It was business as usual for music teacher Daniel Merck and his students on Wednesday as they put in a full day’s work at Chestatee High School.

Teacher and students stayed focused on their daily tasks and calmly took in stride that their trip to perform at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Friday almost got scrapped because of the winter storm that slammed the Northeast.

“We were supposed to leave (Wednesday) morning, but the blizzard changed the dynamics,” Merck said in between classes.

School Superintendent Will Schofield and administrators at Chestatee High have monitored the situation since the weekend.

“(The) safety of our students was always the first consideration,” Schofield said. “Canceling the trip was always a possibility. Fortunately, the storm was early, the storm was not as severe in the New York City area as had been feared, and the weather has cleared and the parade is on.”

Merck said he and his students, along with chaperones, will board four charter buses at 5 a.m. today, and head off on their trip.

Chestatee High will be one of 66 high school and college marching bands from 14 states participating in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, according to The number of bands balloons to 140 with the participation of international and military bands, bagpipe bands and the bands of New York police and firefighters.

“There are so many bands that the parade starts at 11 and goes well into the afternoon,” said Merck, who has been directing the War Eagle Band at Chestatee since 2002.

Merck said the band will play “On Broadway” — a 1960s tune by The Drifters — and March of the Irish Guard, a melody that the band director arranged to include percussion for the parade.

“In between we’ll do our normal Friday night drum cadences we play marching to the football game,” he said.

For the most part, fundraising events and donations are covering the $138,000 budget for the trip, Merck said.

The Chestatee High band also performed at the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“We try to do a major out-of-state trip every other year,” Merck said.

Making the trip will be 45 freshmen, 50 sophomores, 48 juniors and 34 seniors, Merck added. They will stay until Monday in New York, see the sights and hopefully catch a Broadway show. The group will stay at the Marriott in New Jersey.

“Those kids will have quite an experience as their itinerary will give them quite a taste of New York City,” Schofield said.