Hard Work Sends Grenadier Band Off To England

After nearly a year of hard work and preparation by parents, teachers and students alike, the Liberty High School Grenadier Band is finally on its way to England for 10 days of musical and educational events and some good, old- fashioned relaxation.

To raise the more than $200,000 needed to finance the journey, band members sold 90,000 hoagies, 36,000 containers of pretzels and chips, 49,000 candy bars, 2,800 pounds of fruitcake and 1,300 calendar towels, according to Pat Palhofski, past band parents’ president and current hoagie chairman.

Plans call for the 260 band members and 44 chaperons to leave Bethlehem at 5 a.m. today for John F. Kennedy International Airport, where they will board British Airways and arrive at London’s Heathrow Airport at 9:40 p.m. London time. Band members will remain in London, travel to Bristol next Wednesday, and return to Bethlehem during the early morning hours of March 29.

In addition, a group of some 200 local residents, who are fans of the Grenadiers and known as “tag-alongs,” also will travel to Britain. Their itinerary closely parallels that of the Grenadiers, although this group will leave Bethlehem tomorrow and return March 28.

Band instruments and other bulky items were transported to Kennedy Airport last night in a tractor-trailer, which was donated by the Banko Beverage Co. The services of a driver also were donated by Teamsters Local 773.

The highlight of the Grenadiers’ trip, according to Ron Sherry, band director, will be a joint concert with the Coldstream Guards on Sunday in Royal Albert Hall.

The Grenadiers, whose theme is “Rule Britannia,” are modeled after the Coldstream Guards, and their uniforms are exact copies of those worn by this British military group. The belts, buttons and other accessories worn by the Grenadiers are even imported from England.

Sherry called the Coldstream Guards “certainly one of the world’s finest bands” and said this is the “first time for a U.S. band to play with a British military band in a jointly sponsored concert.”

According to the trip’s itinerary, among activities scheduled for band members are tours of London and its landmarks tomorrow through Friday and a parade and performance in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, which Sherry said is also a high honor for any American band.

On Monday, the Grenadiers will present a field display performance in Twickenham Stadium and later that same day will visit “Shakespeare’s Feast” for a three-hour dinner show. Band members will also have time on their own in London.

Next Wednesday,after arrival in Bristol, the band will be greeted at an official reception by Bristol’s lord mayor. The remainder of the Grenadiers’ visit in England will be spent as guests in the homes of Bristol residents.

On the band’s final day in England, it will parade with the Unicorn Band, a local Bristol band made up of students and community residents between the ages of 8 and 21. In the evening, the Grenadiers will play a benefit concert for the Unicorn Band to help the British band with its fund-raising efforts.

Sherry called the trip “the thrill of a lifetime” and said it will afford the Grenadiers opportunities to do things “no other American high school band has ever done.”

Thomas J. Doluisio, who was Liberty’s principal and became acting superintendent Feb. 1, had hoped to accompany the band to England, but he said his present work schedule would not allow this.

Doluisio noted how pleased he was with the band’s trip itinerary. They have “a good composition of activities,” he said, adding it shows “there was lots of care in planning.”

John C. Saunders Jr., Liberty’s acting principal, is happy to be accompanying the band. “I certainly look forward to the experience. I think it is wonderful for everybody,” he said.

Carl Langkamer, school district curriculum specialist for music, and his wife, Doris, a teachers’ aide at Liberty, also are traveling with the band.

“One of the highlights of my job is that I get to accompany these bands,” Langkamer said, referring not only to the Liberty visit, but also to the trip by the Freedom band to Hawaii last December to play at the Aloha Bowl.

He added, “These trips, in 10 days, give the kids more educationally than they can get in a classroom in one year.”

“They will make everyone in Bethlehem very proud of them,” he said of the Grenadiers last week.

He also pointed out how the people of Bethlehem deserve credit for the support they give all the school bands in the community. He said in a little over one year the combined bands of Liberty and Freedom had to raise some $500,000 and were successful because of the support they got from the people of Bethlehem.

David A. Bader
David A. Bader
Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Data Science

David A. Bader is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science at New Jersey Institute of Technology.