From N.Y. to New Orleans … Viera band student is on a roll


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Viera High senior Jacob Groppel had the experience of a lifetime when he got to play trumpet at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in November. Groppel and the rest of the Hawks marching band will play during the halftime show at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2.

Courtesy of Karen Groppel

It’s the marching band lover’s perfect trifecta.

In November, Viera High senior Jacob Groppel took part in the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, playing his trumpet as he marched the 2.5-mile route through the heart of New York City.

This month, Groppel will join his Viera High bandmates in New Orleans, where they will perform in the Superdome during halftime of the Sugar Bowl game between Auburn and Oklahoma on Jan. 2.

Two weeks later, it’s off to Tampa where Groppel will represent Viera High as a member of the All-State Jazz Band.

“It’s been a good year,” Viera’s drum major and band captain said.

The opportunity to play with the Macy’s Great American Marching Band came after Groppel and his mother watched the 2015 parade and she suggested he audition for the 2016 event. He sent in a video of himself playing and was one of 30 trumpet players given the chance to take part.

The band played the Justin Timberlake song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” as it marched through the crowded streets of New York, slowing down only at the end as it prepared for its big moment — a spot on national television.

“It’s on YouTube,” Groppel said. “Some of my friends took a picture of the TV and they circled who they thought was me.”

The week-long stay in New York also afforded Groppel and his family a chance to check out some of the country’s most famous attractions — the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

He is the first Viera band member to play in the Thanksgiving Day parade.

“We’re super proud of him,” Viera band director Nick Eggen said. “He’s the first to seek out this opportunity and take advantage of it. I suspect there will be some others who follow in his footsteps now that they’ve seen him do it.”

And now, it’s off to The Big Easy.

“It’s going to be fun,” Groppel said. “We’re going to be on a bus all night (on Dec. 30) and arrive in New Orleans in the morning. From that point forward, we’re going to be constantly moving — sightseeing and rehearsing.”

The Viera Band will take part in a parade through the streets of New Orleans on Dec. 31, where it will play the Mardis Gras-themed song “Ika, Ika.” 

The halftime show for the Sugar Bowl is themed “On the Town.” The band will play a medley of the songs “Dancing in the Streets” and “Uptown Funk.”

Groppel will be part of 181 Viera students and 35 chaperones taking part in the trip. Students raised money for the event with the generous help of local businesses.

On Jan. 13, Groppel will be part of another first for Viera. He’s the first in the school’s 11-year history to be selected to play in the All-State Jazz Band.

“He’s definitely one of our shining stars here,” Eggen said. “We’re (going to be) sad to see him go, but we know he’ll go off and do nice things.” VV