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October 9, 2007

Londonderry band gearing up for summer trip

LONDONDERRY | With only eight months left, members of the local community are pitching in to help raise money to send the Lancers Marching Band and Color Guard to the International Youth Festival in Beijing next summer.

The Londonderry High band was invited in February by the Chinese American Cultural Bridge Center on behalf of the Olympic International Festival Committee in Beijing to play during the festival, a prelude to the Summer Olympics. Andy Soucy, the school's music director presented the possibility to the Friends of Music parents club, and was told to go for it.

Fundraising for the trip, which is expected to cost close to $3,000 for each student, staff and chaperone, has begun in earnest. There are 270 students of the 347-member band planning to make the trip, at a total cost of close to $1 million.

"The logistics are mind-boggling," Soucy said.

Already, generous corporate donations have come in from Watts Water Systems of Andover, Mass., RE/MAX 1st Choice Realty, the St. Jude's Knights of Columbus and St. Jude's Church.

"We'll also have an auction in March with 300 invited guests," said Bill Gardocki, co-chairman of corporate fundraising for the band. "We'll probably make $50,000 to $70,000."

During Londonderry's Art on the Common last month, the Councilor's Purchase Prize Award went to Derry artist Ingeborg Seaboyer. The painting was donated to the Londonderry Friends of Music and will be one of the auction items.

Gardocki said the group has already received more than $40,000 from corporate donors.

Local businesses are also jumping on the fundraising bandwagon.

"Mack's Apples gave us the use of the pumpkin patch in front of Moose Hill School," said Julie Lee, president of the Friends of Music Club. On Saturday, Oct. 13, from 5 to 9 p.m., proceeds from all pumpkins purchased will go to the band members working that evening.

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