“On the morning of January 16, 1989, I received a Trans-Atlantic telephone call from Dr. Jean-Paul Goude in Paris, France. I could not imagine why someone would be calling me from Paris, France. Shortly after we greeted each other, I realized that Dr. Jean-Paul Goude, the Impresario, was inviting the Florida A&M University Marching Band to perform in the 200th Anniversary Bastille Day Parade. The parade would be held on July 14, 1989 in Paris, France.
Dr. Jean-Paul Goude stated that the French Government would pay all expenses incurred by the Florida A&M University Marching Band to include round trip transportation between Tallahassee and Paris; room and board for the entire trip, and incidentals. As I listened to Dr. Goude, I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Yet, my answer to Dr. Goude was a conditional “Yes,” pending the approval by the University President, the State of Florida, and our federal government. These officials/organizations would have to approve such a momentous undertaking and international venture.
After calculating the cost of transportation, and room & board for 250 band members to Paris, France, I dismissed the possibility of this adventure being realized. Obstacles that immediately came to mind included the task of communicating with marching band members in May, June, and July, during the off-season for the marching band… How was my staff going to get more than 200 members of the 329 member band together to practice and do all the other things we would have to do to get ready for the trip?… The cost would be overwhelming, at least to people like me who had problems getting enough money to pay the bus fare for the band to go just to a neighboring city in Florida… total costs were in excess of $500,000, an average of $2,200 per student.
The Paris, France experience was exhilarating, a historic milestone and high honor for the band to be the official and sole representative of the United States of America in the Bastille Day Parade. We were privileged to assume the role of goodwill ambassadors of America. It was a sensational thrill and experience for the FAMU Band to be wildly cheered and applauded by two million, or more, enthusiastic and happy people along the Champs Elysees from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde, the route of the French Bicentennial Bastille Day Parade.”
Excerpt of Chapter: “The Bicentennial Bastille Day Parade – Paris France” from “The Man Behind The Baton” By Dr. William P. Foster
Dr. William P Foster is founder and creator of the world renowned Florida A&M University Marching 100. He has been credited for the creation of the very first band dance routine, many marching techniques, drill patterns, and band pageants (Themed shows). All of these, and many more of his creations, are still utilized by college bands across the country today.