Three Reitz Memorial High School graduates – Marissa Hammett and siblings Ethan and Morgan Schymik – and their marching bandmates from Purdue University are enjoying the experience of a lifetime this week.
The Purdue All-American Marching Band is in Ireland, where it will perform in Dublin’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Friday, March 17. It’s the band’s third trip to Ireland, having gone in 2018 and 2013.
Mark and Michelle Schymik of Evansville are on the trip with their son and daughter. Mark says the All-American Marching Band and its supporters anticipate a full week of fun activities.
“They’ll do a bus tour through the country, perform in a castle in Kilkenny, then get over to Dublin for the parade,” Mark told Evansville Living last week before departing Evansville for Ireland.
Other stops are expected to include Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, and the Burren region on Ireland’s west coast. The band anticipates attending Gaelic games events and a performance of Women of Ireland, a song and dance show featuring Celtic music.
Ethan, a percussionist, is a Purdue junior, while color guard member Morgan is a sophomore. Hammett also serves in the color guard. In all, Purdue took 364 band members to Ireland, plus 200 or so parents and friends.
Music Travel Consultants of Indianapolis planned the logistics of the Ireland trip for Purdue’s band, as well as those of four high schools, including Indiana schools Columbus East and Indianapolis Cathedral. The total traveling party to Ireland was 1,175 passengers.
Purdue’s band took a chartered flight from Indianapolis to Ireland, while the band’s supporters and the high school delegations flew commercially, according to Martin Becker, a director who’s been with Music Travel Consultants since 2002.
If like us you wondered how the All-American Marching Band’s massive drum – described by Purdue as the world’s largest — travels to a different hemisphere, Becker explains it’s packaged carefully and then hoisted into the charter airplane’s cargo bin, along with stacks upon stacks of other delicate musical instruments.
Once in Ireland, the traveling party will move about the country in 25 motor coaches, with multiple itineraries.
Planning an overseas with so people and so much valuable equipment isn’t a simple task, but it’s also a labor of love, says Becker, himself a former college and high school band director.
“It’s a lot of plate spinning,” he says.
To live stream the event, tune in on Tourism Ireland’s Facebook page Friday starting at 7:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time.