By MARY RAINWATER
The Westwood Independent School District band program has been turning heads lately — and not just with its sound, but with its brand-new Panther band trailer.
The 28-foot long trailer, which features a large black panther in front of a music staff notes, was purchased through a joint effort of the WISD school board and the band boosters.
It has already been used in several events, including two contests and an away football game and was driven through the recent Hot Pepper Fest parade Saturday in Palestine.
“We have had other band directors and band booster members from other schools come up to us and tell us how impressed they are,” band booster activity coordinator Debbie Chambers said. “The kids see that and they get excited about it.”
The design for the trailer wrap was submitted by and voted on by fellow band students, with student Kaitlyn Webb’s design winning the contest.
“We wanted bring a sense of pride into the community, and to make a statement when we are at out of town events,” Chambers said.
Prior to obtaining the trailer, the band had to rent trailers to haul their instruments and equipment to out-of-town games and contests — which cost the district about $3,000 a year.
“Having the trailer will eliminate that cost,” band booster president Jimmy Chambers said. “We like being able to save money for the district and the community.”
RAM Auto, a major sponsor for the trailer, took the content and premise of Webb’s design for use on the wrap’s design — installing the wrap and donating $1,000 toward the project.
But the wrap is not quite paid for, as band boosters are asking the community for help in funding the remaining balance of $2,800.
“We would like to have the funds raised by the end of the year,” Jimmy Chambers said. “The sooner we can pay for it the sooner we can put our money to other uses.”
Those who donate at least $50 towards the trailer wrap will have their names listed on the back of the trailer as a sponsor. The donor list has already been started and boosters are hoping to gather as many as possible before placement on the trailer.
The booster club has held several fundraisers for the project, including selling spirit ribbons and wrist bands, cupcakes at schools and concessions at games. It also has held fundraiser suppers at Mazzio’s Pizza and plans a spaghetti supper for Dec. 18.
An all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast fundraiser will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Applebee’s in Palestine. Cost is $6 a plate and band members will serve as waiters and waitresses.
“We want to thank the school board and all the sponsors for helping us get the trailer,” Debbie Chambers said. “The whole project has been a team effort, not just by the parents but the students and the community.
“We want them all to feel a sense of ownership — to feel like they are a part of it.”
To make a donation toward the trailer wrap, e-mail the Chambers at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trailer sponsors include: Ram Auto, Willow Creek Chiropractic Wellness Center, Premier Services Inc., Mike Gaines Garage, Buddy’s Electric, Reliance Well Service Inc., Barone Family, Dr. Westmoreland Family Dentistry, Warren Collision and Body, Vance Brothers, Rucker Equipment, Pinnergy Palestine, JR Muffler and Graham RV Park.
The Westwood ISD band director is Richard Evans and the assistant director is Shayla Skief.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com