Band must raise $95,000 for Jan. 20 event |

Band must raise $95,000 for Jan. 20 event

by Kurt Hildebrand

Douglas High School’s Fighting Tiger Band is invited to President Bush’s inauguration for the second time in a row.

Parents were surprised to learn the band was invited to go to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 20 inauguration.

“We’re the official band of George W. Bush,” Band Director Bill Zabelsky said.

Zabelsky said he didn’t learn of the invitation until he got a cell phone call at exactly 2:57 p.m. Thursday.

“When I was told by the inaugural committee we weren’t invited to be in the parade, they asked if we would be interested in doing something else,” Zabelsky said. “I said sure, but I never told the kids because I didn’t want to disappoint them. But I got the call on my cell phone and I saw it was from a 202 area code, which is Washington, D.C., so I took it outside. It was the inaugural committee asking if we would be what they call a parade route act.”

Since that was what the Tigers did when they went to the president’s 2001 inauguration, Zabelsky agreed.

He announced it to parents at the Winter in the Sierra Concert on Thursday night.

“We were all just thrilled,” said band parent Melanie Krause, mother of flute player 15-year-old Daniel Krause. “We don’t know how we’re going to fund it, but just to be invited is such an honor.”

Zabelsky said that the McQueen High School Lancers will be marching in the parade and he has contacted the Reno high school to find out if they can split the cost of a charter.

He estimated the band has to raise $100,000 in the next few weeks to make the trip. He said they have $5,000 seed money to start.

Zabelsky said that learning of the invitation before the last day of school will help with the fund-raising.

“Last time we found out after Christmas break started and that was just nuts,” he said. “At least we had a day before school was out to organize.”

He met with more than 100 parents and band members Friday evening about the fund-raising.

He said parents are expected to provide at least $500 per student, which should cover half the expense. The rest will have to be raised over the next few weeks.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “There are some band directors never get to do this. It proves what a great program we have starting at the elementary schools and going all the way to the dedication of the parents and kids.”

Zabelsky has been band director at Douglas High School for 20 years and has spent 25 years working for the school district.

“I have no plans to retire for at least the next three days,” he joked.

Anyone wishing to donate to the cause may send donations to Douglas High School, PO Box 1888, Minden, NV, 89423, or contact Zabelsky at 782-5136, ext. 1102. He said he will check his messages regularly during the Christmas break.

— Kurt Hildebrand can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 215.