‘Mentos Rocks’ the All City Marching Band
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
WILLIAMSBURG — What happened in 1972?
Nixon ordered NASA to build the space shuttle. “The Godfather” opened. Jane Fonda toured North Vietnam. Atari shipped Pong, the first video game. New York City subway fares went up to 35 cents.
And New York City’s All City Marching Band got new uniforms.
The city’s signature high school marching band is made up of talented students who dedicate their free time to practicing and performing in events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Since 1972, members of the band have worn the same uniforms through rain and snow, parade after parade. Though sharp in their day, the outfits – with red cummerbunds and blue top hats – have become thread-worn and just plain old.
Unfortunately, nonstop cuts to school music and arts programs means that grungy band uniforms are the last thing the city is going to shell out money for.
So the band members were blown away this past Wednesday when the company that makes Mentos mints presented them with a check for $10,000 for sharp, new uniforms.
The Perfetti Van Melle company, through their program called Mentos Rocks, donates money, instruments and uniforms to funding-starved schools. Mentos Rocks also partners with famous musicians to bring attention to the need for music education.
At the event at The High School for Enterprise, Business and Technology on Grand Street in Williamsburg, band members were ecstatic when Mentos executives presented them with a cardboard cutout of the new uniforms.
Their audience of fellow students in the gymnasium went wild when singer, songwriter and Gold Record recording artist Andy Grammer – a trumpet play in high school – came onto the floor of the gym and yelled out, "Let me introduce you to my band!" He joined the marching band in a performance of his own hit songs like “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me.” After the audience chanted, "We want more!" Grammer came back out and performed an unexpected, acoustic rendition of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," with all in attendance singing along.
"This is a generous gift for our students in the All City High School Marching Band and we are grateful," Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said in a statement. "These students work hard after school and put on performances that benefit the entire city, and are a joy to watch. Now, as they continue their successful performances, they will do so in style."
“There is a need for music education and we deeply appreciate the help of programs like Mentos Rocks that are truly fighting for this cause,” said band conductor Jeffrey Ball.
Craig Cuchra, Mentos Brand Manager at Perfetti Van Melle US, said, “Mentos Rocks not only looks to provide funding for schools in need but any struggling music program that could use help.” He added the company was honored to supply the band with new uniforms.
Students in The All City Marching Band attend: Grand Street Campus High Schools (three schools); Brooklyn High School for the Arts; Stuyvesant High School; Staten Island Tech; Bronx Science; Wagner High School and Brooklyn Studio Secondary School.