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The Pittsburg High School marching show band performs before the Pittsburg vs. Clayton Valley Charter game in Pittsburg, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff Archives)

PITTSBURG -- The invitation for the Pittsburg High School Marching Show Band to perform in the 2014 London New Year's Day parade was a huge high five from across the pond last year. And it wasn't easy to get, given that only the very best school bands are asked to be in the spectacular event.

Raising funds to help band members make the trip also isn't easy, but the Band Boosters are determined to do so. The funds will be used to help reduce the airfare, meals, lodging and sightseeing expenses for band members associated with the six-day trip.

To that end, the Great Pittsburg Rubber Duck Race will take place at the Pittsburg marina launch ramp on Sept. 28. Tickets to sponsor a duck are $5 each.

"You get five of them for $20. We take the rubber ducks and put them in the water," said Mike Stoiber, a member of the Rotary club who along with the Kiwanis and Soroptimist clubs is sponsoring the race.

The grand prize for sponsoring the winner of the rubber duck race is a 1979 white Ranchero restored by Pittsburg High students in the auto body program.

The Band Boosters hope to raise an estimated $100,000 for the trip and have raised about half that amount to date, said Anthony Martinez, who is president of the nonprofit organization made up of parents with kids in the band. His daughter Jennifer played the clarinet and tenor sax in the band as a student and is now the band's director. Another daughter, Julia, is a flag twirler in the band.


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The goal is to have 100 band members, including some who graduated this year, go to the event. About 145 students are in the band.

Money raised will be used to help bring down the estimated $3,200 travel costs to $2,600, with up to $40,000 being used to pay for incidental expenses associated with the trip.

Two energy companies -- Calpine and NRG -- have each contributed $10,000 toward the London trip. And over the last year, there have been several fundraising events, including rummage sales, a crab feed and popcorn, cookie dough and snack sale events. On Saturday, a rummage sale will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Pittsburg High parking lot at 250 School St.

All to help make a once-in-a-lifetime experience happen that the students will never forget.

Not only is the band marching in the London New Year's parade, but they are one of two school bands from around the world selected to play on a media preview day at Trafalgar Square and one of five bands that will play in the parade finale.

"They were excited to begin with but when we finally announced at the first Band Boosters meeting about Trafalgar Square and the finale, every one just erupted in cheers and applause," Anthony Martinez said.

A total of 16 schools from the United States were invited to provide a musical or dance performance in the parade.

In 2007, 167 band members performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. That trip cost $221,000, of which more than half was raised through community fundraisers, with family members picking up the rest.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.

THE GREAT pittsburg rubber duck race
When: 1:30 p.m. Sept. 28
Where: Pittsburg marina launch ramp
Tickets: $5 each or 5 tickets for $20
Available for purchase at: Outback Steakhouse, 4350 Century Blvd, Pittsburg; State Farm Insurance, 130 E. Leland Road #8 Pittsburg; Railroad Book Depot, 650 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg or online at www.pittsburgkiwanis.org.