Being invited to play in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City twice in a five-year span is an amazing accomplishment. But to have an opportunity to perform on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland, well, that’s taking it to a whole other level.
Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band will perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland on March 17, 2024.
“It all came about because POTM has had memorable performances all over the U.S., but has never performed internationally,” said Jack Eaddy, WCU’s director of Athletic Bands. “Performing in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students and we’re honored to represent our university, community, region and nation on an international stage.”
Jude Hahn, a sophomore flute player from Albemarle, was stunned when she learned of the band’s upcoming trip.
“I was genuinely shocked,” she said. “I had no idea. After COVID-19, I didn’t think we would do something that grand and that big. It’s so legendary for us to be able to do something like that. We’re the first in this program to go international. It’s absolutely insane and I’m so excited.”
Eaddy said after going through an application process, POTM was one of a couple of U.S. bands selected to perform in the parade that has been held for more than 100 years. Trip details are still being finalized, but Eaddy said the band will have several performances and visit historic sites in Ireland.
The band performed in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after being chosen to lead the parade in 2014. It also marched in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
Brandon Rice, a rising senior from Irmo, South Carolina, who plays the electric violin, performed in the last trip to New York City.
“To say that the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is going international sounds surreal, like a dream you’ve always dreamed of, but you never thought was going to happen,” Rice said. “For us to be able to fly out of the country and march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, it’s going to be not only legendary for the people in Ireland, but also for us because we’re a massive band from the small town of Cullowhee, North Carolina.”
Eaddy sees it as an opportunity for the students to experience something they otherwise may have never experienced.
“I know this will be the first trip internationally for many students and will provide them an opportunity to not only see things they’re studying, but to experience them, too,” Eaddy said. “We have a product that represents excellence, so we’re able to participate in amazing experiences. Invitations to perform like this also attract prospective students to attend WCU and join our program.”
The goal, Eaddy said, is for the entire 500-plus member band to go to Ireland. To help make that possible, an announcement of the band’s fundraising efforts will be forthcoming.
“We’ll definitely be able to do this with the support of our community, family and friends,” Eaddy said.