Montgomery County

Arson Damaging Instruments Won’t Stop Montco High School Band from Marching on Memorial Day

The North Penn Marching Knights almost had to miss Monday's Lansdale Memorial Day Parade, after a suspected arson damaged their instruments. Then other schools stepped up to help.

A Montgomery County high school band whose instruments fell victim to arson last week will still march and play in the local Memorial Day parade on Monday.

North Penn High School's band equipment suffered water and smoke damage after authorities say a student set a fire in the band storage area on Tuesday, forcing firefighters to evacuate about 3,000 students, faculty and staff from the Lansdale high school.

But the fire damaging the band's instruments won't stop them from playing in Lansdale's Memorial Day Parade after all: Band Director Mike Britcher said North Penn's Marching Knights will use instruments lent from two other area schools -- West Chester University and Spring-Ford Area High School -- that stepped up to help before the smoke cleared.

"We received more than a dozen offers for help," Britcher told NBC10 on Sunday. "It's incredibly satisfying to see that kind of support. Within an hour of the news showing the fire, we began receiving calls, [and] we were able to take two schools up on their offers."

The parade is set to begin at 9 a.m. Monday at Cannon Avenue and Main Street in Lansdale. It's one of Montgomery County's biggest Memorial Day celebrations, according to Lansdale officials, and the North Penn Marching Knights have been playing in the parade for more than two decades.

Britcher said that some 200 instruments in the band room where the fire started sustained water and smoke damage. He said they're not sure yet what the level of damage to the instruments is, because the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Police on Friday said that a North Penn student was arrested in connection with the suspected arson and charged with multiple felonies. That student, who has not been identified because he or she is charged as a juvenile, remained at the Montgomery County Youth Center last week awaiting further court proceedings.

It's unclear why or how the student set the fire.

School officials said the fire caused significant damage that will be costly to repair.

Britcher said despite the setback, the Marching Knights are excited to come together to honor the community and veterans during the Memorial Day parade.

"I tell them all the time, this is a big thing for them, it's a different type of performance," Britcher said. "We have performances that are just for us and then we have performances for others, and to provide those services is the biggest thing they can do. They are really looking forward to it."

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