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Two UNC Schools Help Their Bands Meet Rose Parade Costs

DURHAM N.C. – The two public universities whose marching bands performed in the Tournament of Roses parade on New Year’s Day relied on alternative resources to take care of what donations couldn’t cover.

The Western Carolina University and North Carolina Central University marching bands were among 22 bands from as far away as Japan to march in the annual, nationally telecast parade in Pasadena, Calif.

North Carolina Central used about $130,000 in student fees to pay the balance after raising about $300,000 for the trip, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Tuesday.

Western Carolina’s band raised about half the $650,000 it needed for the trip, and the university picked up the rest with its budget and from its Foundation and Development Office. The 390-member band was voted best in the parade.

Both schools say their Rose Parade appearances will pay off in fundraising and admissions interest.

“It’s like athletics. People don’t enroll because a team wins, but it elevates the university,” NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms said.

The Pasadena trip had some hiccups. Snow that hit on Christmas weekend caused some travel headaches, and the band didn’t appear on the live national telecast because the network cut away before the Marching Sound Machine reached the cameras.

The school is paying for the balance of the trip by tapping some of the more than $3 million collected from student fees. NCCU’s more than 8,500 students pay an activity fee of $408, which is used to fund the band, student groups and intramural sports.

“There’s a range of things it supports,” Nelms said. “It’s like your household budget. You might spend a little less on something and a little more on something, depending on your needs.”

Like the NCCU band, Western Carolina’s group did everything it could to raise the $650,000 it needed for the trip, Chancellor John Bardo said.

“They did everything from car washes to asking relatives to help,” Bardo said. “These kids really wanted to go.”

The parade, viewed by about 150 million people in about 40 countries, provides the sort of public relations boost that can’t be bought for the 9,400-student university in Cullowhee, about 50 miles west of Asheville, Bardo said.

“The alums have been really proud of it; it’s something they noticed,” he said. “That will be measurable in the long run.”


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