Looking forward to another trip to Pasadena this winter | Island Forum

By Susan Reichert and Robert Thomas

Our family traveled to Pasadena the last time the MIHS band played in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day, 2006. Our son, Galen, was a trumpet player in the band, so we decided to turn this event into a family vacation. It was such a fantastic experience that even though we won’t have kids in the band next year, we are making plans to be in Pasadena for the 2012 parade. No way would we miss the opportunity to watch our MIHS band friends march down Colorado Boulevard (and maybe Main Street in Disneyland) for the third time in recent history.

The memories of our 2006 Tournament of Roses adventure are still fresh. We weren’t part of the formal band tour, but went on our own and stayed with a cousin in Pasadena. We made all of the band performances, including a joint concert with several other bands, and a solo parade down Main Street in Disneyland with thousands of spectators who fell in behind the band despite a little drizzle. We also hit the spectacular Getty Museum and other amusement parks. At night we spent time with family and friends in the area. A highlight for our family was visiting the buildings where hundreds of people were assembling the parade floats. Galen and his band friends lucked out, though, as they actually got to work on the floats with experts who have done it for years.

Enough with the visiting and sightseeing! Finally, it was time for the parade. What a blast. Literally. Everyone told us that it hadn’t rained on the Rose Parade for over 50 years, so not to believe the rainy weather forecast. However, we bought some plastic sheeting and brought rain gear just in case. Good thing — as we approached the parade route, it was raining so hard that our windshield wipers had a hard time keeping up with the downpour.

We were soaked by the time we walked several blocks to our reserved seats in bleachers near the famous corner turn onto Colorado Boulevard. Torrents were running down the sides of the street, flowing under the lawn chairs that people had slept in the night before to have front row seats for the parade. No matter. We created a collective Mercer Island tent with dozens of other families on the bleachers while we waited for the band to arrive. As the first floats passed by, they seemed to, in fact, float between two rivers on either side of the street — enormous and stunning structures that were melting before our eyes in the blowing downpour.

This surreal scene did nothing to dampen our spirits. When the MIHS band rounded the corner — without raincoats and sending out a fanfare of music — we all got up and cheered. Later we learned that every kid made it the entire five-and-a-half miles, despite being weighed down by wool uniforms that absorbed the rain like sponges. We heard that rivers of that same rainwater flowed from the trucks when the uniforms arrived back on Mercer Island.

It took days to dry everything out, but, as often happens, a little unexpected adversity made for some great stories. We can’t wait to return with the band next year to see what new adventures await us in Pasadena.

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