SPRING HILL — The Springstead High School Eagle Brigade will land in the state capital next month to celebrate a historic moment.
The marching band has accepted an invitation to take part in Gov.-elect Rick Scott's inaugural parade, set for Jan. 4 in downtown Tallahassee. The brigade will join more than 70 entrants from across the state, including more than two dozen marching bands, in a procession that begins at W Call and Monroe streets and ends at the Leon County Civic Center.
"The kids are excited, the parents are excited, and it's a good moment for Springstead High School," principal Susan Duval said.
Scott's campaign put out a call to local Republican leaders to round up interested participants. Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Hernando Republican Executive Committee, reached out to Hernando School Board members, who in turn contacted superintendent Bryan Blavatt.
"Springstead stepped up," Ingoglia said. "The local party would like to thank them for taking time out of their winter break so Hernando County can be represented."
The parade is on a Tuesday — the last day of break. So Springstead band director Rick Dasher wasted no time last week after getting confirmation of his group's participation. He decided the band would learn a new song for the occasion: In Defense of Liberty, an arrangement by Jay Dawson that weaves together patriotic songs like Battle Hymn of the Republic and America the Beautiful.
Dasher handed out the sheet music to students on Monday, but because of testing, the band didn't get to practice before the winter break started Wednesday afternoon. Composed of about 70 members, the band will get together Jan. 3 to practice and will board school buses bound for the capital at 6 a.m. the next day.
"I would not feel comfortable with that if I didn't know how amazing these kids are," Dasher said. "They're really, really hard workers."
The band has consistently performed well in state competitions, and it marches in its share of processions, including the Brooksville Christmas Parade, the Chasco Fiesta Parade in New Port Richey and Disney's Magic Music Days parade in Orlando.
But an inauguration is special, said senior Katie Duguid, a trombone player and band captain.
"It's just an honor," Duguid said. "It's something that only happens every four years, and we were invited to do it."
Tony Marrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431.