The Bands of America Honor Band’s Tournament of Roses Parade® PerformanceChris Forsythe
Live the Bands of America Honor Band’s Tournament of Roses Parade® Performance with Music Travel Consultants! At the beginning of every year, the world’s eyes are focused on Pasadena, California, home of the prestigious and gorgeous Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game. For over 100 years, this festival of music and sports has been America’s premiere Celebration of the New Year, broadcast live by multiple media outlets all over the planet. One of the biggest highlights of the parade is the Bands of America Honor Band, made up of high school musicians from throughout the country, who auditioned for a spot for in this talented honor group. Tournament of Roses Parade marching band performance opportunities come once in a lifetime for some schools, but Music Travel Consultants is honored to be Music for All’s Official Student Travel Partner and to manage travel arrangements for Bands of America every four years to its colossal, unforgettable, life-changing performance in the Tournament of Roses Parade®! Music Travel also uses its expertise to assist others looking for Tournament of Roses Parade marching band performance opportunities.
Boasting over 250 performers from 37 states, the Bands of America Honor Band had just a few days to mold its group of talented individuals (who never had played together before) into a tight unit, worthy of its name. The goal was to give the performances of a lifetime. To achieve that meant lots of hard work in the days leading up to the parade.
Bob Buckner, former Director of Athletic Bands at Western Carolina University, led the 2017 Bands of America Honor Band and its all-star staff of music educators. These included Program Coordinator David Starnes, Director of Athletic Bands at Western Carolina University, and many other nationally acclaimed directors: Matt Harloff (Avon High School), Greg Bimm (Marian Catholic High School), Mark Stone (Ayala High School) and Bobby Lambert (Wando High School), to name a few.
The work began when the students arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday, December 28th, to be greeted by a Music Travel representative holding a Bands of America sign. Band members were then shuttled to the hotel, where they received instructions, room keys and other swag they would need for the week.
First, each performer was fitted for a uniform specially designed by Michael J. Cesario and tailored by Fred J. Miller Company, a long time sponsor of Music for All. Meeting rooms were provided for warm-ups and practice during the afternoon, prior to the first full band meeting, dinner and rehearsal. Then it was off to bed because the next seven days were going to be packed with non-stop adventure!
Thursday, December 29th, started with a wake-up call at 6:00 am. After breakfast, the performers drove by motor coach to Long Beach City College for Parade and Bandfest show rehearsals. The band marched two rehearsal blocks, with lunch in between. That evening, the group enjoyed dinner together at Buca di Beppo before returning to the hotel for a special leadership session led by Music for All Hall of Fame director, Frank Troyka. There was just enough time for another music rehearsal before ‘lights out!’
The next day, Friday, December 30th, the band woke up to a call at 5:30 am. After breakfast, it was off to Long Beach City College for some serious practice. Tonight would be the Honor Band’s first performance. Lunch and snack breaks were provided, and with sleeves rolled up, the band kept on working. After a quick dinner at the hotel, band members donned their cool uniforms and headed back to Veterans Memorial Stadium at LBCC for the “parent preview performance.” It was ‘killer!’ For the first time at this event, Music for All and Music Travel was delighted to welcome two special guest bands and their fans. The Pride of Broken Arrow from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and the Pulaski Red Raider Band from Pulaski, Wisconsin, performed their exciting field shows, plus pass-in-reviews, for applauding parents and the Honor Band. The Honor Band’s show was a hit, too, and it was a great night of music-making and camaraderie for all!
Another early wake-up call at 5:30 am (Hey, it’s 8:30 am in New York!) greeted Honor Band members on Saturday, the 31st. Following a good hotel breakfast, the Honor Band drove by motorcoach to Pasadena City College for Bandfest, the thrilling field show exhibition sponsored by the Tournament of Roses Parade® Music Committee. All bands marching in the Rose Parade perform for boosters, fans and music aficionados at Pasadena City College Stadium in three performance blocks. The cheers from band members and fans at the end of the performances added exclamation to a morning full of great music and marching! And, the reward was sweet – – a lunch for all performers from California’s own In & Out Burger. YUM – YUM!
After lunch, Honor Band performers commemorated the trip with a group photo in front of iconic Rose Bowl Stadium! Plus, they had an opportunity to see Parade floats up close, to get a better idea of the high level of detail and craftsmanship that makes them so spectacular. Next up, a Guided Tour of Hollywood took the Honor Band to see Mann’s Chinese Theater (where stars’ hands and footprints have been immortalized), the Hollywood Bowl, and Sunset Strip. In the early evening, everyone enjoyed the group dinner at Hard Rock Café, a great way to celebrate a busy but action-packed Southern California day!
“Sleep in Sunday” (wake up at 7:00 am!) promised serious fun after breakfast. The band headed to Huntington Beach, encompassing 42 miles of shimmering sands, rugged coves, boardwalks and breathtaking vistas. Known throughout the world for its superb surfing conditions, it is one of California’s finest ocean beaches. Lunch was provided while the group relaxed in the SoCal sun!
A traditional highlight for Bands of America Honor Band members is playing at Disneyland, and this year was no exception! From Huntington Beach, the band drove to nearby Anaheim to prepare for its Disneyland debut. This year, the band set up on the steps and platform of the Train Station, front and center on Disneyland’s Main Street USA at the park’s Main Entrance! Band members became Cast Members as its electric performance wowed thousands of park-goers, and the Honor Band members earned their ears for their wonderful music!
Returning from Disneyland, the group had one last parade rehearsal before the big march on Monday morning. Dinner and early-to-bed followed rehearsal!
With a ruthless 3:00 am wake-up call on January 2nd, and a grab n’ go boxed breakfast, the Honor Band’s coaches departed for Pasadena and the Tournament of Roses Parade®! The world-famous 5.5-mile parade of beauty runs down Pasadena’s Orange Grove Avenue onto Colorado Boulevard, featuring bands from throughout the country and some of the most spectacular floats imaginable! Millions of viewers watch this nationally televised event every year. As the 17th musical unit, the Bands of America Honor Band dazzled parents, staff, sponsors and band enthusiasts alike as it made the turn from Orange Grove onto Colorado Boulevard, navigating “TV corner” like professionals, demonstrating all the skills they had learned over the past four days!
At the end of the route, the band was greeted in the dispersal area by the traditional In & Out Burger truck, full of tasty burgers and drinks. Next stop, the hotel to rest, turn in equipment and uniforms, and get ready for the group’s final banquet.
The Gala Banquet was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with parents, family and friends, reminisce about activities and events, and hear from Music for All CEO Eric Martin about the amazing work the students had done throughout the week, and the amazing work they will continue to do in their lives. Group pictures, drum head signing, and DJ dancing all helped bring this very special evening together.
The fun didn’t stop after the Gala because January 3rd was everyone’s turn to enjoy the magic of Walt Disney’s original theme park – – the Happiest Place On Earth! After enjoying an entire day devoted to 60 attractions and adventures in eight themed lands, the group headed to the hotel for a good night’s rest, followed by a safe journey home the next day.
Music Travel Consultants is, once again, honored to assist its partner, Music for All, with this prestigious trip and its mission of providing positively life-changing experiences. We hope the memories and friendships made between the students, staff, family, and friends last for years to come.
Is your band ready to perform in the Tournament of Roses Parade® with Music Travel Consultants?