Antelope High School band plans to perform in D.C.

The Antelope High School Titan Marching Band likes to surprise people.

The 115-member band has been known to march through the local grocery store or spontaneously serenade diners at eateries. It’s also known for performing interesting arrangements created by band director Senora Mello.

“They are playing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and then, all of a sudden, here comes Darth Vader,” said Deborah Forester, president of the Antelope Band Boosters Association.

The band hopes to bring some of that spontaneity to the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C., after securing a rare invitation to the event.

“They are hugely excited,” said Forester, whose daughter Emma is an Antelope senior and plays the clarinet in the marching band. “Every time we get on the bus to go to a competition I hear them say ‘I can’t wait for D.C.’”

The trip is costly. The price tag for sending all 115 band members is $218,320, including costs for transportation, lodging, meals and shipping instruments. Families are being asked to pay $820 per student, with the $120,000 balance expected to come from fundraising.

Any money raised beyond $120,000 could help families without the means to pay their $820 cost. Forester said there are about six teenagers in the marching band – some foster kids – who can’t pay the balance.

“We have very middle-class schools,” Forester said. “It’s a hardship for everybody, but for some it is near impossible. We are working to get everybody there.”

So far the band boosters association has raised $35,000 for the trip through sponsorships, fundraising dinners and sales. The band will ramp up its appearances over the next few months in hopes of garnering more donations. The band does not charge for appearances, but it usually receives donations after performing.

The band’s next public appearance is Tuesday at the Sacramento Veterans Day parade. This holiday season, the band will again march through Antelope neighborhoods offering Christmas music.

“We will make a big deal that we are going to Washington, D.C., and hopefully people will be generous,” Forester said.

Donations toward the band’s trip can be sent to the Antelope Band Boosters Association, 7909 Walerga Road, PMB 112-257, Antelope, CA 95843. The band also has a contribution Web page at

Call The Bee’s Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert.