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Band gets ready for Pasadena
The enormous task of transporting 270 kids and all the related gear is underway, as the Mercer Island High School marching band prepares to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day.
This is the third time that the band has been invited to march in the Rose Parade; last year, they marched in London’s New Year’s Parade. The last time the band was in the Rose Parade was 2006, the first time in 52 years when it rained on the parade.
The trip to London was also impaired by weather — snow in that case, delaying flights, but they all managed to get there in time. This year is a much shorter flight.
Band director, Parker Bixby, said in 2006 the rain in Pasadena was caused by a tropical depression. They were blasted with “firehouse” rain during the entire parade and many of the kids were borderline hypothermic.
“We are taking raincoats, but again, it was the first time in 52 years,” Bixby said.
He said they had the old wool uniforms then, which were so soaked the truck weighed thousands of pounds more on the return trip. The new uniforms are made from Dri-Weave, a quick-drying synthetic material.
The kids will fly out of Seattle on Dec. 28, returning Jan. 2. The instruments and uniforms were sent via UPS to London last year. This time, two parents, Bob Sims and Terry Coe, will be driving everything down.
“I volunteered many months ago when all the sub-committees were being formed,” Sims said.
The two will be driving a 26-foot truck, towing an 18-foot-long trailer that the school owns. Sims said the trailer was retrofitted to carry the uniforms, while the truck will hold all the instruments, banners and miscellaneous gear. Sims said 1,400 cubic feet are required for the instruments. He and Coe will leave Dec. 26, allowing themselves enough time in case of bad road conditions.
The band will also march at Disneyland and participate in Band Fest at Pasadena Community College while they are in California. Band co-director Ryan Lane said Band Fest is not a competition; it is a festival.
“The bands get together and perform for each other,” Lane said.
Lane said the band didn’t do as much fundraising as in the past, but through a car wash, raffle and an event featuring some of the Harlem Globetrotters, they did raise about $5,000 to help out band members who needed scholarships, since the cost per student is $1,500.
“The kids have been working their tails off; it’s a huge honor,” Bixby said.
It’s “apples and oranges” he said, comparing this trip to the trip to London last year. Bixby said The Rose Parade officials are much more selective on which bands perform.
He said 16 bands were invited, representing every corner of the country, as well as bands from as far away as Beijing and Puerto Rico.
Two upcoming rehearsals are set for the Mercer Island High School Marching Band at Islander Stadium as they prepare for their appearance in the 2012 Rose Parade. They are between 6 and 8 p.m., Dec. 12; and 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 14.
The band will aslo rehearse at 9 a.m. at Islander Stadium on Dec. 19, 20 and 21. The band may go offsite during a portion of these rehearsals, but will begin each of these days at the high school.