SEMINOLE — Seminole High School band director Daniel Wood had applied — and been rejected — to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for years.
Then, last year, success.
The school will be one of seven high schools to perform in what many consider the holy grail of parades for marching bands. Hundreds apply for the honor each year. Wood believes his group will be the first high school band from the Tampa Bay area to march in the parade.
The Second-Time Arounders, a St. Petersburg area band of adults who marched in their high school years, performed in the 2008 Macy's parade.
The Seminole band is working to raise the nearly $300,000 it will need to travel and perform.
About 160 band members will make the trip for the 2.5-mile parade. They will leave Florida the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and stay in New York for five nights.
Because the band was picked for the parade last spring, band members have had some time to raise money. They've held car washes, sold candy, worked Tampa Bay Rays games at Tropicana Field — anything to help. But donations have been "sluggish" because of the economy, Wood said.
"It gets nerve-racking because I don't want to leave any kid behind," he said. "It's a really big honor and accolade, but it's hard to ask for money when everybody else is struggling, too."
The band is in the running for two grants from Pepsi that would cover its costs. The band needs people to vote online every day from now until July 31.
"If you just vote, we're not even asking for any money," Wood said.
The grants are through the Pepsi Refresh project. Charities and nonprofits make a pitch for why they should get funding, and the groups with the most votes at the end of each month get money.
The Warhawks are up for a $25,000 grant that would help transport all of the instruments, as well as a $250,000 grant that would offset the costs for band members.
The band is also in the running for a grant from Chase Community Giving, where groups with the most votes on Facebook can win money. When voting ended, the band ranked 93rd. It hasn't learned how much, if any, money it will receive.
The band has performed throughout the country in the 12 years Wood has been at the school. It performed at the Rose Bowl in 2005, and much of the money to pay for that trip came through at the last minute. Wood hopes that happens again.
"I know that something will come through," said Chelsea Crose, a 17-year-old starting her senior year with the band.
Right now, the band is a few weeks into its summer practice season. Most Tuesdays and Thursdays band members can be found in the school parking lot practicing their steps and music. Band camp, which means even longer days of practice, begins in August.
Sara Gregory can be reached at (727) 893-8785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.