Fitch Band to perform at Norfolk NATO Festival
April 17, 2019


For over 65 year, Norfolk, Virginia has organized a salute to NATO's role in maintaining peace and stability in the world: the Norfolk NATO Festival. Norfolk is NATO's home in North America, and the week-long Norfolk NATO Festival held each April is the only festival in the world that honors the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its 29 member nations. The Austintown Fitch High School Marching Band, under the direction of Wesley O'Connor and assistant director Jeremy McClaine, have announced that the Austintown Fitch Marching Band program will take its distinctive military marching style to Norfolk for part of that celebration as they will perform in the 66th Annual NATO Festival of Nations Parade which will be held on Saturday April 27 at 10 a.m.

The band began spring training the beginning of April in preparation for the parade. Director Wesley O'Connor said, "We hope for good weather for our training since this parade is such an honor for our students. They have the opportunity to pay tribute to not only our American soldiers, but soldiers from across the world who as members of NATO work to keep our country and all of our allies safe. The parade is perfectly suited for our band's military style of marching and our history. Our band members look forward to any chance they have to show support for our service men and women, along with the sacrifices that have been made for us by all of our Veterans. They are proud to represent Austintown and the greater Mahoning Valley in this military tribute!"

Approximately 150 band members and chaperones will depart from Austintown Fitch High School the morning of Friday, April 26 for the parade. While staying in Virginia Beach, the band members will also tour the battleship Wisconsin and attend the Virginia Art's Virginia International Military Tattoo at Norfolk's Scope Arena. The tattoo, held on Saturday evening, is one of the three largest military tattoos in the world. Along with international military units, bands and drill teams from the United States Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines will participate. French Air Force General Andre Lanata, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, issued and invitation for everyone to join in the celebration. He spoke of the Norfolk Festival and the relationship between NATO and the City of Norfolk, and said, "All nations represented at NATO's Allied Command Transformation serve as a symbol of the Alliance's transatlantic bond, and we are all grateful to work and live alongside our American friends. Please enjoy the culture and heritage of all 29 member nations showcased throughout this week. I look forward to celebrating with everyone for many years to come."

On Sunday, the day after the parade, the band members will enjoy a relaxing day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg before traveling home on Monday the 29th. Todd Wessell of Bob Rogers' Travel is coordinating the trip in conjunction with the Austintown Band Parents Club. O'Connor noted that "during their four years at Austintown Fitch, this senior class of band members will have participated in the Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade, Disney World's Main Street Character Parade, the National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C. and finally the NATO Parade. They have truly celebrated America as part of their band experience."

More information about the band and their performances can be found at The band parents also plan on live-streaming the band's parade performance on their facebook page: Austintown Band Parents.


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