SOUTH FORSYTH — Before it plays the Seminoles, the University of Notre Dame must first get past the Paladins.
On Friday, the Band of the Fighting Irish is stopping at Pinecrest Academy on its way to Tallahassee, Fla., where the school’s fifth-ranked football team will face No. 2 Florida State on Saturday night.
“Our director of bands, Ken Dye, did a camp down at Pinecrest this summer, and we knew Florida State was a big game and we were hoping to take the band there,” said Alison Thigpen, assistant band director. “[The metro] Atlanta [area] seemed like a logical place to stop.”
Pinecrest Academy is a private Catholic school off Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth. According to communications coordinator Vivian Heard, the Notre Dame band will perform at the School during the school day, then practice on the football field from 4:15 to 6 p.m.
At 5:30 p.m., the visitors from South Bend, Ind., will perform their halftime routine for the public, which is encouraged to attend.
This is Notre Dame’s first season playing some games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the band is used to much shorter trips throughout the Midwest.
“This is kind of a special trip for us,” Thigpen said. “This is our first season in the ACC. So with the ACC travel, it’s a much farther distance to go.”
In fact, the band will be staying around Forsyth for the evening.
“A lot of our Pinecrest community, particularly the band families, will be housing the members of the band overnight,” Heard said. “They’ve been asked to take two or three band members into their homes.”
The trip will require a good bit of support, as the band travels in nine buses and boasts more than 300 members. “The last time we did a home stay was in 2007, when we went to Penn State,” Thigpen said.
Heard said that she was expecting a lot of Notre Dame fans and alumni at the event.
“It’s kind of a short-and-sweet visit, but we’re excited to have them here,” Heard said. “I don’t know that we’ll ever have them on campus again.”
Thigpen also said she was excited for the trip.
“We have that connection at Pinecrest, and there’s also a very strong Notre Dame club in the Atlanta area as well,” Thigpen said. “So we knew we had a lot of support in the Atlanta area.”
Heard credited the school’s band director, Len Insalaca, for organizing the stop.
“He is very good at pulling things like this off,” she said. “We’ve already played at Carnegie Hall back in 2012, and we’ve received an invitation to play for the pope last year. I don’t know how he did that.”