Colts band gets marching orders, but not funds, for London

February 04, 1994|By John Steadman

All those parades, guest performances at National Football League games and public concerts have contributed to the Baltimore Colts' Band creating a reputation as a remarkable unit, a force for entertainment. Also possessing an unchallenged distinction.

This is the only band in history that marches in behalf of a nonexistent team. It's also why the band, like no other, holds such a revered place in the character of Baltimore.

The presence of the Colts band brings happiness and applause when it comes into view along a parade route. Then, upon quick reflection, there's the sad awareness that the Baltimore Colts don't play here anymore. That's harsh reality.

But through all the trauma, the Colts band has been an exceptional representative, true musical ambassadors of good will. The members carry the message of Baltimore and make friends wherever they go. Never have they, individually or collectively, hurt the cause of Baltimore.

Now the band has been given the invitation to enjoy an international honor. The London Parade, held New Year's Day, wants the Colts band to join in its presentation.

John Ziemann, president of the organization, would like to accept. The only difficulty is how they are going to pay for the trip since the members are working-class folks from diverse occupations.

The total cost for the pleasure of going to London, including air transportation, hotel and meals, comes to $193,920. Ziemann and his fellow musicians are hopeful a business or industry will make contributions or even offer to help with the fund-raising. Some company, indeed, may want to pick up the tab.

If not Ziemann and his Colts band may be knocking on your door soliciting help.

"Our membership has started to raise funds," he said. "But we need the help of our community. We're asking private and corporate sectors to consider a contribution. If a major sponsor showed interest and, in turn, we used its name, that would make it all the better."

A trip to London would be another achievement for the Colts band. It also would reward a group of dedicated volunteers the chance to enjoy an experience that most of them might never be in position to attain.

The Colts band, no doubt, has more than done its part in remaining intact.

"No donation is too small," commented Ziemann. "If the public wants to participate, checks may be sent to Ms. Regan Andrus, c/o Bank of Baltimore, Hunt Valley Mall, Cockeyville, Md. Since ,, the departure of the Colts in 1984, we've resolved to stay together. We've performed, by actual count, at 30 NFL games. In 1991, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, we got the first standing ovation given to any musical aggregation at the 'Festival of Football.' "

Ziemann sees the Colts band going to England as a major promotion for Baltimore and Maryland. A round trip, pro-rated, comes to $1,212 per band member. It includes six nights of accommodations, tours of London and taking part in a gala New Year's Eve concert at Wembley Hall.

Then at noon New Year's Day, the Colts band will perform in the grand three-mile parade that draws close to a million spectators.

"Imagine the thrill it would be for our band members. We'll start in Parliament Square and follow the route along Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Regent Street, Piccadilly, Hyde Park Corner and other places of antiquity.

"I know we'll be charged up when our band leader, Dr. Jack Vaeth, blows the whistle for the start. Dr. Vaeth, no doubt, will be the talk of London because of his bombastic enthusiasm and ability to create such a positive reaction. He'll set the stage for the Colts band putting on what I guarantee will be a tremendous show."

Soon after the invitation from London reached Ziemann came a Hawaii call. Another organizer wanted the Colts band to appear in Honolulu during the Christmas holidays. But that would spread the band too thin. London is the focus.

The Colts band has meant much to Baltimore during four decades of non-paid service, plus the pleasure it produces. It would seem to have earned the opportunity to make such a trip.

Hopefully, it will receive sufficient assistance. Band members will be trying to get help from their employers. It would be difficult, however, for them to bake cakes and engage in car washes to raise money. They honestly shouldn't have to do that.

The Colts band is Baltimore's band. Go for it . . . London on New Year's Day.

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