Bands of America Honor Band in the Rose Parade®
2009 BOA Honor Band Coverage
Dec. 27, 2008 - Jan. 2, 2009 - Pasadena, California

Day Six - Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009

Happy New Year!
See the Parade photo gallery

and the Banquet photo gallery

Day Five - Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008

See the Wednesday photo gallery

Our day started with FOG! Oh no! How can you do a tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills when you can't see anything? But our bus driver said not to worry - the tour would be in perfect weather - and he was right! Everyone walked around the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre which has been part of Hollywood legend for over 75 years. It was fun to see the signatures, foot and hand prints of famous stars past and present. It was hard not to bump into other people while walking on the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard as everyone had their head down trying to read the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We even got to see the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards. While the red carpet must have been at the cleaners, it still felt pretty cool to walk up the stairway just like the movie stars do every year! Of course a tour of Hollywood would not be complete without a stop at the Hollywood Bowl! Someone on the staff bus said that next time the BOA Honor Band performs at the parade, we should include a special performance at THIS venue. Dream big - you never know what can happen. (These are words to live by as we are bringing to life the mega-unit that has literally been on paper for the last 12 months and is now reality!)

Play time was over for the day and that meant the return trip to the Rose Bowl grounds to meet up with our float. This afternoon epitomized "hurry up and wait." Everyone dressed in uniform and got into position with the main float and three pods. People in the area really seemed to enjoy our music rehearsals as no other band was involved this afternoon. Many people stopped to ask who we were. It was definitely out of the norm for a band to be at "Float Judging." Finally, we saw a police escort of some official Tournament of Roses vehicles. We were told those were the judges. Our time had come! And boy were these people intense. They stood. They watched. They wrote in their notebooks. This was nerve-wracking! And then they walked away. We wouldn't find out results until parade morning. Talk about a cliff-hanger! We just wanted to know what they thought of our incredible mega-unit! (Patience really IS a virtue).

We originally planned to go one final time to Dodger Stadium but the sun goes down so fast here on the west coast that we simply didn't have time to travel. So, Scott McCormick found an unused parking lot far from the float barns and that became our final rehearsal space. Everyone seemed to realize it really was December 31. We were out of time. And that could only was SHOW TIME.

Back at the hotel we had a true Thanksgiving Dinner. Literally. And boy did we have lots to be thankful for. New friends, a life-changing experience and the opportunity to show the WORLD what we had been working on for less than a week. After dinner, it was time to send everyone to their room to watch the ball drop in New York City officially declaring the new year. After a quick east coast "Happy New Year" it was time for everyone to sleep quickly as wake up calls would come early tomorrow morning. Good Bye 2008!!!

Day Four - Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008

See the Tuesday photo gallery

While it seemed like we were touring Los Angeles today, it wasn't our official tour - it was simply our schedule! We started the day at the Rose Bowl Stadium where official band photos are taken. The stadium was a beautiful backdrop for a photo of the BOA Honor Band.

It was then a short ride over to Pasadena City College for Band Fest. It started to warm up and get a little toasty, but the students gave an energetic performance! One great tradition at Band Fest is to eat In-N-Out Burgers. You fly through the line and before you know it you have built your very own box lunch. And boy is it good!

Today's afternoon rehearsal was unique in more ways than one. We arrived at the Dodger Stadium parking lot and the vehicles waiting for us could only mean one thing - it was time to put it all together! The production company helping us create the "mega-unit" had a huge flat bed truck plus additional trucks to represent the pod floats. In the distance you could see plastic buckets outlining the "corner." The parking lot was ready for us to give it a try. It was amazing to watch the intensity of placing vehicles within marching students. Pacing was crucial. Ropes were attached to the back of the pods and were designed to give students the perspective of how much distance they had to keep from the pod in front of them. (And to state the obvious, they were reminded that the ropes will NOT be there during the parade.) It felt like we were watching a bigger than life science fair project. Could we make it work?

With nothing obstructing our view, from a distance the unit looked absolutely ENORMOUS! Timing was drilled into this rehearsal simply because the group stretched so far from front to back. By the time the band comes down the actual parade route, the front flags will probably be marching in a different zip code than the back flags! Yes, this mega-unit is really that long!

As the band finally came back around again I looked at the truck representing a pod and saw A BLINDFOLD OVER THE DRIVERS EYES! WHAT?!? He was actually practicing HIS part for the parade. When he drives the float he won't be able to see and will come "safely" down the street with the help of spotters. Whew - I was happy to understand what I observed!

At the end of rehearsal, the entire band gathered around the big float (flat bed truck today) and were officially introduced to Bob McGrath, who is completing his 38th year on Sesame Street. He had been on the float throughout the rehearsal but he now had a chance to chat with the band. He also graciously posed for pictures when we finished. It is questionable whether the students enjoyed the photo op more than the band staff!

Dinner was split so that we could feed the students quickly. Buca di Beppo provided the perfect family style meal for our hungry crew. At the Glendale restaurant, George Parks and his wife were serenaded not once but twice by students in commemoration of their 30th Wedding Anniversary. What a way to celebrate such a milestone with 300+ of your closest student band members.

Without a doubt the most incredible part of this experience so far was arriving back at the Rose Bowl and knowing that the float viewing area was officially closed...but we had special clearance to enter the NAMM tent. After all Ð we are ONE with those floats. Students and staff alike were assigned to a station to help decorate. EVERYONE was fired up! To cut flowers and place them on the float gave students an up close and personal view! Everyone was wired! It was absolutely electric. Scott McCormick walked out with a little momento - glue and yellow straw flower residue on his fingers. It should have been on the float as Big Bird's feathers but it was on his fingers instead. He was very proud of that. Actually knowing that his vision of this unit was now a REALITY made him one happy man, and the students all knew it!

Day Three Summary - Monday, Dec. 29, 2008

See the Monday photo gallery

From the time chaperones started waking the students this morning, you could tell the countdown to dress rehearsal was on. Everyone knew that we had so much more to accomplish so the vibe was a little different with the students. Nobody wasted any time at Hollywood Park for the first rehearsal. By late morning, it was time to depart for Cal State Fullerton and lunch with the cow. Really. Lunch was provided by Chick-fil-A and the "Eat Mor Chikin" cow came to meet the students.

Time flew this afternoon and before we knew it, it was show time! The Family and Fan participants as well as others arrived in Fullerton to see the Bands of America Honor Band for the first time. The students presented their full repertoire and got everyone in the stands to clap along. Having an audience for the first time made the band VERY REAL. That was quite obvious in the eyes of many students.

Family and friends had only a short time to come down to the field and greet the members. Cameras were flashing and there were plenty of hugs to go around. There were lots of proud parents and family members but you could also tell that there were many proud students. They had accomplished so much in so little time - and they were now truly representing Bands of America.

It was then time to leave for Disneyland! One request was made of the audience - "if there are any band dads that can help move our electronic equipment and the cart, we could use your help." And the motto, once a band dad always a band dad was proved within minutes. The best "pit crew" on the planet immediately came to the field and asked what they could do! (They made record time in moving the cart to the truck!) We LOVE band dads.

At Disneyland we entered the back stage area. We already knew that the park had officially "closed" at 1:00 pm. That meant that by 1:00 pm they had sold the maximum of 60,000 tickets for the day and had to stop sales. No pressure on our band that they were playing for a "full house."

As we started our walk to the performance area, we went down a long ramp and into an odd structure that looked like the beginning of Rock 'n' Roller Coaster in Disneyworld. We found out it was one of three original BOMB SHELTERS that Disney built in the 1950's. (However, it was exclusive for Disney employees...guests were on their own in an emergency!)

As we got closer to the stage, we walked past buildings and even heard the screams of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. One student said "This is not the Disneyland I know!" (That was the quote of the night!)

Sleeping Beauty's Castle was the backdrop for the first official performance of the Bands of America Honor Band. The dark stage slowly lit up. And once the music started it was hard to tell who had more fun - audience or performers! When the students looked behind them, they were in absolute awe of the beautifully lit castle dripping with icicle twinkle lights. The setting capped a truly magical evening for everyone at the happiest place on earth!

Students had a short time for dinner and a quick run through the park. It was time to finish the day by meeting at the C in front of California Adventure. (C is also for Cam so of course they could remember where to meet!)

Day Two Summary - Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008

See the Sunday photo gallery

Postcard from Cam Stasa
A marching band of 300+ definitely needs a BIG space to practice, so they loaded buses for the first time on Sunday and went to the immense parking lot at Hollywood Park. Marching style was defined and students were placed in their spot of the parade block. Within a short time, the band really started to look like a band! Before we knew it, they were starting to work on the "infamous turn" that is notorious at the Tournament of Roses Parade. The turn from Orange Grove to Colorado Boulevard is MORE than 90 degrees. Of course on parade day, aerial footage from the blimp will shoot from that perspective. Needless to say, we don't want any error to occur on THAT corner while millions of people from around the world watch the parade. While watching the band march around the parking lot, I could only wonder "what does this look like to all the people with window seats that are descending into LAX since this parking lot is between two flight paths of LAX and in their final approach!" People just had to be talking about us on the plane. They probably thought we had learned this months ago. Fooled them, didn't we?

While our flag line and dancers were at a different practice site during the day, they were pushed at rehearsal just as hard. So much had to be taught today. It was an aggressive schedule, but the students hung in. When I went back to the band rehearsal late in the afternoon, I was pleased to see a very defined parade block marching in the lot with a minivan in the middle? What?!? The van was "holding the space for the float." OK - that made sense as we hadn't met up with our float yet. (But, I bet THAT looked funny from the passing planes).

By dinner, every student looked like they were on their last brain cell. They were all a little glassy-eyed. The best remedy for this? A session with the one and only Dr. Tim! Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser is known by music students across the country and this room of students was no different. Those that had seen Tim in action before, knew something GREAT was coming. And those that had never seen him had no idea what to expect. While the session started with some mentally dragging students that had full tummies from dinner - within the first 10 minutes the students were engaged, interacting, and focusing in a way that only Dr. Tim could make happen. While individual students walked INTO the session, the BOA Honor Band walked out at the end - and into another rehearsal! The clock was ticking - dress rehearsal was ONE DAY away!

Day One Summary - Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008

Day One Photo Gallery

Postcard from Cam Stasa
It was planes, trains and automobiles on Saturday, December 27. Students from around the United States did everything possible to get to LA. For some, travel was not an issue. For other band members, it was non-stop flight delays and cancellations. But that didn't stop OUR determined students. Mother Nature and the airline industry were simply NOT going to beat THIS band.

As students continued to arrive at the Marriott LAX, there was an absolute flurry of activity in the Fred J. Miller uniform fitting room. This experience was personified late in the day when a young girl ran up and asked where the restrooms were. Within seconds, she came running back. I had to ask "what could you have done in that short of time..." She said "I just wanted to see what I looked like in my uniform - but I am too short to see the view in the mirrors." I looked up and saw a mirror in the hotel hallway (had been too busy to notice it all day.) She said, "I'm still too short." Well, please don't tell the Marriott (shh) but I helped her stand up on the couch that put her in perfect view of the mirror. The sparkle in her eyes said it all. The moment was finally here. She and all the other students are now truly members of the Bands of America Honor Band.

After an Opening Session to greet the band and staff - it was time for business. Sounds of Sesame Street filtered through the hallways. The steady rhythm of the drums could be heard muffled through the walls. Dancers and flag members worked on precision. The 2009 BOA Honor Band was BORN!

As a few extremely weary traveling students arrived late after bed check, the halls of the Marriott were finally quiet. Day one was now history, but FULL of stories.

Onsite Coverage
Parade Video
Parade Video KTLA

In Review

Day Three

Meet the Drum Majors

Day One

Watch more Music for All Video

Tournament of Roses Links
TOR Official Website

In the News!
Orange County Register (CA)
Santa Rosa's Press Gazette (CA)
Ventura County Star (CA)
Chino Hills (CA)
Local & State Register (DE)
Jacksonville Journal Courier (FL)
The Bugle (IL)
The Mokena Messenger (IL)
Morton Times News (IL)
Paxton Record (IL)
Indianapolis Star, 12/27/08 (IN)
Indianapolis Star, 12/28/08 (IN)
The Advocate (LA)
ABC Newspapers (MN)
NewsOK (OK)
News on 6 (Jenks, OK)
Keloland TV (SD)
Yankton Press & Dakotan (SD)
Fort Bend Focus (TX)

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