Hampton Band’s Holiday Fundraiser is an “Extravagant” Success

Three student volunteers rang bells, announcing the ongoing 50/50 raffle.

Three student volunteers rang bells, announcing the ongoing 50/50 raffle.

Abby Pursh, Writer

Walking through vendor stalls filled with colorful swaths of patterned fabric, sparkling jewelry of silver and gold, and assortments of pine wreaths tied with red ribbons, visitors are serenaded by the notes of holiday music. As heavenly smells of freshly baked cookies waft into the nose, it seems the spirit of the holiday season had finally arrived at Hampton.

The cause behind this one-of-a-kind fundraising spectacular was the Hampton Band and its supportive community, whose annual Holiday Extravaganza took place this year on Saturday, December 4th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Decorating crews arrived on Friday spending five hours after school sprucing up the cafeteria and hallways. On the day of the event, students arrived as early as 7:00 a.m. to help vendors set up. A tear-down crew also worked for an hour afterwards to de-deck the school’s halls. 

“A HUGE Thank you to everyone that came out and supported the Holiday Extravaganza,” said an email sent out to band families from the Hampton Band Association (HBA) Board on December 5th. “We had an incredibly successful day, and we would not have done it without YOU!” 

Over 100 vendors came to market their items at the event as the gift-giving season commenced, including many small and local businesses. Shoppers could find virtually anything for anyone, including hand-crocheted plushies, long strands of rainbow licorice, gold-carat bracelets, seaweed creams, wooden toys, and of course, brilliantly tacky holiday knick-knacks. 

The cafeteria and gym were lined with over 100 vendors selling holiday gifts.

Near the entrance, more than 35 raffle baskets were on display, featuring all sorts of desirable items for those wishing to test their luck. Across the hall, novelty band items like T-shirts from years past were available for sale. And if they found their stomachs rumbling, buyers could grab a bite at the Band Dad’s cafe. 

Co-chairman of the Extravaganza Kelly Frank revealed in an email to The Hamptonian that this year posed numerous challenges, as well as involved a fairly new group of volunteers. However, everyone brought their own talents and connections to the table to make the event come together. Frank also adds that the hard work and support of the Band Board, the Hampton Band teachers, band alumni and parents, and her co-chairman Julie Mikus helped make the fundraiser such a success. 

“This year’s Holiday Extravaganza went better than I could have ever imagined,” Frank says. “I was concerned that it would not be as successful as previous years due to the current pandemic.  However, the Hampton community rallied and this event came back strong!” 

One indication of that strength was space near the Freedom Shrine. The usually quiet and empty hallway was transformed into a bustling, sweet-smelling Cookie Walk, where buyers got in line to browse the thousands of homemade cookies donated by Hampton Band families. “OUR ELVES ARE HERE TO HELP!” read signs posted along the length of the tables, behind which student volunteers in bright red aprons gingerly placed cookies into to-go containers.

“Elves” helped pack cookies into to-go containers during the Cookie Walk.

Behind the Cookie Walk sat a kids’ craft area, where young children made snowmen out of toilet paper rolls and little felt stockings with pipe cleaners, assisted by band students. 

According to Julie Mikus, co-chair for the Extravaganza, one of the major challenges for the 2021 event was the pandemic. Mask-wearing, for example, was one of the biggest differences between this year and last. But with the help of some creative minds from the Extravaganza committee, they were able to come up with solutions and modify the event to be COVID-safe. The traditional “Sundaes with Santa” was adjusted to be “Slushies with Santa” in order to limit high-touch areas, Mikus says. Co-chairman Frank adds that the gloved “elves” who packed boxes during the cookie walk were also a precaution to ensure the safety of everyone involved. 

But the pandemic didn’t in any way limit the holiday spirit of the buyers and the volunteers, who flooded in from around the community to experience the fun. Mikus reveals that despite the challenge of the pandemic, a lot of money was raised for the Hampton band, and Frank agrees that all “graciously embraced the necessary changes” to make the event a success. 

One of the many vendor displays in the cafeteria.

From the auditorium, the sounds of the 5th grade band, the 8th grade band, and the HHS percussion and wind ensemble resonated from loudspeakers throughout the building. The Hampton Dance Team also performed onstage at 12:30. Back out in the hall, Santa and two of his reindeer roamed, eager to take pictures with kids and wave to shoppers. The sounds of jingling bells rang out among the chatter of vendors, volunteers, and buyers, as student volunteers decked out in holiday regalia shouted “50/50!”

Mikus personally hopes that next year, even more band students will take part in the Extravaganza, as the event itself demands an “army of volunteers.” Participating allows students to earn their volunteer hours required for graduation, interact with the community, and inspire younger students to be involved in HTSD’s music programs, and a strong network of passionate music students and parents have supported HBA. 

As a parent of a band senior, Mikus herself is excited to see where the program is headed. “I am certain the direction of the band will only reach new levels in future years!”

“I am already looking forward to next year’s Holiday Extravaganza,” Frank agrees. “I am certain that the volunteers will build on the momentum from this year to keep raising money for our band programs and spreading Christmas cheer!”