Throwback Thursday: Litton's Marching 100+ at the Rose Parade

It's an historic week for an East Nashville middle prep. 50 years ago this week, the Isaac Litton High School Marching 100 Plus band traveled to the Tournament of Roses Parade. Widely recognized as one of the best marching bands in the nation, band members, parents and local dignitaries (including Mayor Beverley Briley) boarded three planes for California on December 29, 1963. The Tennessean has a terrific piece about the trip - and a return trip this year by three members of the Marching 100+. Read that piece here.

Also on that trip in 1963 was Larry Collier: student assignment guru, school calendar expert and all-around MNPS Central Office Fixture.

Young Larry Collier (center) with his parents on the set of Rawhide in 1963 during a trip to California for the Rose Parade. Yes, Rawhide the TV show.

Larry remembers the trip well. He took a few minutes this week to share his memories and talk about the incredible community support in East Nashville:

From late in 1962 to Thanksgiving of 1964 a huge sum of money was raised. First, new uniforms were needed. That took about $12,000. When we received the invitation to the Rose Parade, $30,000 was required to make the trip. We received an invitation to the Macy’s parade 11 months later for Thanksgiving 1964.  I’m guessing that at a minimum, it required $10,000.  So in all, the band had to raise at least $50,000 in 2 years, probably more.

In today's dollars, that $50,000 equals nearly $400,000! In fact, they raised so much money that they had enough left over to surprise band director Sammy Swor with a brand new car.

Think it's strange to buy a new car for a band director? Well, Mr. Swor was beloved by his students and the entire Litton community.

Larry Collier, once again:

It’s difficult to put into words what the experience of being a Litton Lion meant to all of us. A mixture of excellent athletics and the best high school band that this state has ever seen made for huge crowds on football Friday nights. We were so lucky and so indebted to people like Sammy Swor. He brought more attention to excellence in music education in Nashville than anyone else, before or since. He was a true legend in MNPS.

Other trips the band took included Baltimore Colts NFL game in 1965, Washington for a Redskins game in 1966, and back to New York in 1967 for a New York Giants game at the original Yankee Stadium.  Remember, back then all halftime shows were shown on TV, so it was a big deal to be invited to those games.

That community support continues today in East Nashville, thanks to parent groups like Community PTO and the I Am Dan Mills PTO.

What amazing history in our East Nashville schools!