Karen Baker’s ‘Slice of St. Tammany’ column for Feb. 14, 2013

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s talk about things we love — like good chocolate, great music and costumed dogs on parade.

I really have nothing to say about chocolate — except that it should be one of the major food groups. I do, however, have news to share about great music and costumed dogs.

Music first

First, here’s the scoop on music: The Fontainebleau High School Band Boosters will have a fundraising concert on Feb. 21, featuring the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. at Church of the King in Mandeville. Tickets range from $15 to $30, with a $5 increase at the door. They can be purchased at http://www.fhscrimsonband.com.

Band director Lee Hicks said the band started holding fundraisers in 2004, when the school’s new auditorium opened.

“My goal was to raise money without having to sell a bunch of candy bars,” he said.

As a teenager in New Orleans, Hicks said, he saw lots of great jazz performances, including at the 1984 world’s fair.

“There’s nothing like a live performance,” he said. “We’re 40 minutes away from where it all started, but some people over here never get to the city.”

And so Hicks and the Crimson Band boosters are bringing jazz to the north shore. “Kids nowadays don’t get to see this kind of stuff very often,” he said. “My students will get this incredible experience live and in person. On top of that, we will make some money.”

The money will benefit the 157 students in the Fontainebleau High School band, which has a reputation for excellence.

“We moved to where we moved because of the band,” said Stephanie Kelly, who has a freshman son in the FHS band and an older son who was in the band and graduated last year.

Kelly said that she and her family moved to Mandeville from Texas a couple of years ago, when her older son was a junior in high school. “The band was his social group,” she said, so she wanted to find a school that had a band as good as the one he had left.

“We looked at all the YouTube things we could find with different bands,” she said. “Fontainebleau had 150 in their band, more than what we had in Texas.”

After all of her research, Kelly said, she was sold on the Fontainebleau band. “We looked at houses only in the Fontainebleau school zone,” she said, adding that her family has been very happy with the experience. That’s why she is helping to promote the World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra’s upcoming performance.

“Everyone is struggling financially,” she said. “If we can have this concert be a success, that makes the band fees go down” for the students.

Hicks said that FHS has hosted the orchestra before. “They like to come here,” he said. “We feed them pretty well. … It’s a pretty cool thing. Hopefully the community will come out and support us.” The Glenn Miller Orchestra continues the big-band sound of the orchestra founded by pre-World War II recording band leader Miller, whose plane disappeared en route to Paris in 1944.

The FHS Jazz Band will open for the performance on Feb. 21. For more information, visit http://glennmillerorchestra.com; for tickets, call Kelly at (985) 629-4106.

Costumed dogs on parade

Now, about those costumed dogs. If you love dogs and parades, don’t miss the annual Mystick Krewe of Mardi Paws parade at 2 p.m. Sunday on the Mandeville Lakefront.

The theme of this year’s parade is “Mardi Paws gets DOGGONE Wet!” The “walking parade” features canines and their families in costume. Same-day registration will be available at the Mandeville Harbor at 12:30 p.m. A Post-Parade Extravaganza will held on the lakefront, featuring food, fun, music and booths.

Organizers say the theme throws this year will include the special gold dog droppings given out by the royals, the purple dog droppings thrown by past royalty, and a limited number of special beads. The registration fee is $15 per dog, with a group discount of $45 for 3 or more dogs — but they must be from the same household.

The parade is a fundraiser for three nonprofits: Scott’s Wish aids people suffering from leukemia and other devastating illnesses; Have a Heart thru Art is made up of community leaders who provide access to the arts for underprivileged and disabled children throughout the parish; and the St. Tammany Spay & Neuter Program provides low-cost spay/neutering services.

Karen Baker writes about St. Tammany Parish. She can be reached at sliceoftammany@gmail.com.