Cobden High School band invited to perform

National Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C.

A Union County high school marching band has received the opportunity of a lifetime with an invitation to perform in the National Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C., on May 27.

Cobden High School has been working towards this parade for many months. 

The process began when superintendent Edwin Shoemate heard about the parade and submitted an application to the Illinois governor’s office early last year. Shoemate received a packet from the parade’s organizers, Music Celebrations International. 

But the band wasn’t guaranteed a spot just yet. They began learning their music in July. The whole performance was to center around the Marvel Comics superhero Captain America. 

Cobden has played that music since then at various performances, including the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School homecoming parade last August. One of the performances was recorded and used as the audition video, which was submitted early last month.

Only a couple of weeks later, band teacher Jeremy Followell learned that Cobden had been formally invited to participate in the parade. 

Cobden High School has performed in the parade once before in 1983. The band also performed in Washington, D.C., for a different parade later that decade. The mother of one student who plans to participate this year actually marched in the 1983 trip.

Though the high school covered the initial $1,500 required to apply for the program, and the music boosters will provide some funds, the cost is still currently $827 per student.

Fifty-one of the bands 76 students are certain to go, with three more possibilities. Seventeen chaperones plan to attend.

Efforts are underway to raise money to help lower the amount to closer to $700 a student.

The Cobden Music Boosters are raffling off a Cobden Appleknocker quilt made of school t-shirts. One ticket is $5 or five tickets are $20. The quilt is housed at the Cobden Village Hall until Feb. 10, when it will be shown at Feb. 10 and 14 basketball games. The drawing will held Feb. 14.

Those looking to support the band’s trip can attend an annual band booster fundraiser, AppleRockers, at Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass on April 22, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event will include live music, a silent auction and the sale of donated beef patties.

The co-chairperson of the band boosters Jennifer Lintz, set up an account on, where donors can give money online at any time at

Final payments for the trip are due April 1.

Followell expressed excitement for the students, citing his previous experiences in the nation’s capitol. 

He serves in the National Guard and is stationed in the 144th Army Band in Springfield. 

He was able to spend time in Washington, D.C., with the band, visiting national monuments in uniform. 

So he’s looking forward to seeing the students experience the National Symphony, the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery and visiting Marine Barracks in full dress uniform.

“I know what that feeling is like.” 

Followell hopes to also take the students to view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and one of the Smithsonian museums.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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