News Column

Barletta honors Hazleton Area band for playing in D.C. parade

May 28, 2014

By Tom Ragan, Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.

May 28--U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, was elated when his hometown band, the Hazleton Area High School Cougar Marching Band, performed in the Memorial Day National Parade in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

On Tuesday, Barletta met with five members of the band and the band director Neil Forte III and assistant director Jennifer Gerhard at his office in Hazleton.

Barletta presented a Certificate of Congressional Recognition to mark the event and to honor the band and its performance and appearance at the nation's capital as part of the Memorial Day ceremonies.

Forte thanked Barletta for recommending that the band participate in the parade.

Barletta called it a "special accomplishment" to perform in a parade that honors the brave men and women who gave their lives defending our country.

The band could not go to Washington, D.C., to perform if they were not invited.

"They accepted my invitation and their audition obviously went very, very, well," Barletta said. "They were selected to participate with many bands across the country and it is something our whole area should be very proud of for what they accomplished."

Barletta said there is a lot of talent in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

"Sometimes we have to step back to realize how proud we are of the talent here," Barletta said. "To be part of that parade in the nation's capital is very, very special and a band from my hometown."

Barletta said he watched clips of the band and was sorry he couldn't be there but he appeared in some local parades for Memorial Day.

Senior drum major Danny Synoski said the band had a lot of fun.

"We toured the Smithsonian, the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Arlington Cemetery, World War I and II, Korean, Vietnam and Iwo Jima memorials," Synoski said. "It was great."

Rebecca Lukatch, a junior, called it a good experience.

"We were just a small-town band in such a national parade with thousands of people watching it was overwhelming," the 16-year-old bari saxophonist said.

Band member Jessica Logue, an 18-year-old senior and trombone player, said she will carry a number of good memories away from this trip to Washington, D.C.

"I'm going to remember the people who love their country so much and the way they waved their flags and cheering for us and everyone in the parade," Logue said. "Their pride is something I will always remember."

Assistant band director Jennifer Gerhard reflected on her trip and experience.

"It was incredible for me because I lived in the D.C. area for seven years teaching music right out of college and I used to watch the Memorial Day parade and never thought that I would be part of it," Gerhard said. "I started four years ago when many of the band members started so to see them experience it was incredible."

Many band members watched the National Symphony Orchestra perform a concert on the Capitol lawn and came away impressed with their professionalism and the sound of their music.

"It felt good to be in the nation's capital," 17-year-old senior Kylie Smith said.

One of the impressive things she will remember is how members of the Army brought bottles of water and passed them out to the band members because it was very hot in Washington, D.C., this past weekend.

"It was crazy," Smith said.


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Source: Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, PA)

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