Marching Chiefs gear up to travel overseas

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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 20, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Members of the Florida State University Marching Chiefs are gearing up for their first performance overseas in more than 20 years.

383 members will represent the United States in France during a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, also known as D-Day.

"D-Day is such an important historic time in World War II. So, being able to go and play for the 75th anniversary is beyond words," said drum major Katie Olney.

Getting everything the band needs across the pond has proven to be a logistical feat for university faculty.

"Thirty-some odd mellophones, 23 tubas, 44 trombones," said Patrick Dunnigan, the director of bands at FSU.

Dunnigan said it was most cost effective to ship the band's equipment to Europe, so "a mountain" was packed into a semi-truck on Monday morning. It will be shipped off nearly two weeks in advance.

"It was a little nerve wracking this morning watching all of our equipment drive away on a semi-truck," he said. "It's kind of like a supersized regular Marching Chiefs trip."

Dunnigan said it has been "a crazy 8 months," as the band has been fundraising and cramming in extra practices. Each student was required to pay their own way, more than $3,000, but everyone received a $1,000 scholarship thanks to the fundraising efforts.

The performance will be the first overseas trip for the band since a group went to London in 1997.

"It's just an unbelievable trip that I know I'm never going to forget and I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life," said drum major Alex Arbeiter.

Dunnigan said the Chiefs will be the only US college marching band in the Normandy parade on June 6. They will be in France for a week.

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