FAMU Marching 100 Band and NFL stars headline Easter Parade

The St. Augustine Easter Week Festival announced to Historic City News today that the renowned and entertaining Florida A&M University’s “The Marching 100” band will be featured during the Easter Sunday parade on April 16th beginning at 3:00 pm.

The historic parade route starts at the Authentic Old Jail Museum, 167 San Marco Avenue and runs through the historic district in downtown St. Augustine.

“Easter Sunday is a special day to honor spectators, participants and the hard-working team of volunteers who are credited for orchestrating this major area accomplishment,” said David Chatterton; Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine General Manager and St. Augustine Easter Week Festival Parade Director. “We enjoy putting on the parade for residents, and their families and friends who set up chairs and stand along the parade route. The opportunity to visit and share the excitement of the locally focused parade is a 61-year tradition in the Nation’s Oldest City.”

This year, the Parade’s two grand marshals are star kickers currently in the National Football League (NFL) and they graduated from St. Augustine – based high schools. Cairo Santos is a place kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs and Caleb Sturgis is a place kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles. Santos attended St. Joe’s High School and Sturgis attended St. Augustine High School. After the parade, Santos and Sturgis will be signing autographs at the St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, 10 West Castillo Drive. The grand marshals for this year’s parade are sponsored by Historic Tours of America and Old Town Trolley Tours of St. Augustine.

The Willie Galimore FAMU National Alumni Chapter launched a donation campaign to bring the FAMU band to the parade through a variety of activities to raise funds which support the band’s transportation, lodging, and food, among others.

“We are very proud of our alumni and business partners for donations and direct funding, and for producing statewide events like t-shirt sales, raffles and barbeques,” said Cynthia A. Williams, Chapter Vice President, and Principal of St. Johns Technical High School and St. Johns Virtual School in St. Augustine. “The famous FAMU band will include approximately 180 band members during the parade.”

The FAMU marching band has been credited for its highly innovative techniques to become the standard operating procedures for many high school and collegiate marching band programs throughout the nation. Band precision is demonstrated in each performance and is key to the college students and the band’s success while exemplifying the band’s mission to serve as role models of excellence.

According to FAMU’s “The Marching 100” website, ranking high among the proud traditions of Florida A&M University, the Band is the first of its kind at the institution, formerly named A&M College and organized in 1892 under the tutelage of P.A. Van Weller. From a small store of 16 instruments, “The Marching 100” is now under the direction of Shelby R. Chipman, Ph.D., Professor of Music, Florida A & M University, Department of Music.

According to Williams, major donors include the J.R.E. Lee Jacksonville Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association Chapter, Herbie Wiles Insurance, The Bailey Group, and numerous individuals and businesses along with assistance from the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council and the Easter Week Committee. Additional major sponsors include AXA, Coleman’s Mortuary, Dick’s Wings, Hastings ML King Committee, Island Doctors, Leonard’s Photography Studio, Tony Pearson Insurance, and the W.W. Gay.

Williams added that J.R.E. Lee Jacksonville Chapter members who were formerly with the renowned band will also participate in the parade of more than 180 total band members expected. Also, Miss Florida A&M University will be among parade participants along with Joe Bullard, a nationally syndicated broadcaster and oldest announcer and voice of historically black colleges and universities bands.

“Another fun aspect of the parade includes prizes awarded to participants including local non-profits, youth, volunteer and service organizations, citizens and civic groups, and many others. Categories for prizes are open, historic and Easter divisions,” said Chatterton. “The parade is focused on drawing local spectators from St. Augustine and St. Johns County, as well as visitors.”

The St. Augustine Easter Parade began in 1957 through the organization of the St. Augustine Easter Week Festival. The family friendly parade is known as the Parada de los Caballos y Coches, Parade of Horses and Carriages, and features St. Augustine’s Royal Family, the Easter Bunny, clowns, drill teams, community floats and marching bands. The St. Augustine Easter Week Festival culminates with the Parade, a tradition headed by Michele Reyna, President of the St. Augustine Easter Week Festival.

For more than 15 years, Old Town Trolley Tours brings trolley and shuttle transportation and entertainment to St. Augustine by taking visitors and residents throughout the historic city, offering 23 stops with more than 100 points of interest. For more information, visit http://www.trolleytours.com/st-augustine or call 904-829-3800.

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