December 31, 2015

Photo Essay: The Marching Bands of the Rose Parade, 2016

It gets so busy before and after the annual Rose Parade that the Tournament of Roses' house, the Wrigley Mansion, closes to the public between August and Febuary. The design and decoration of the parade floats alone take just about a year.

That's because the Rose Parade isn't just some parade on New Year's Day, followed by some college football game at the Rose Bowl.

And this parade features more than those floats that are festooned with fresh flowers.

There are the horses—which show off their skills at the annual Equestfest—and then there are the bands that come from high schools all over the world to march in the parade and to perform an exhibition at Bandfest.

Bandfest kind of feels like a football game without the sports. Upon arrival at the Robinson football stadium at Pasadena City College, you get your own drum and stick, like you might at a World Cup soccer match in Brazil.

And it is as much a visual spectacle as it is a musical one...

...watching all those kids lining up in their matching outfits...

...marching out onto the field in their formations...

...playing their instruments and performing choreography...

...under the guidance of a whistle-blowing director.

Every year, the PCC Tournament of Roses Honor Band & Herald Trumpets open the Bandfest show...

...with their flag-waving and baton-twirling.

The rest of the bands each get one slot across the two-day event, and they're only allowed to come for the Rose Parade every four years.

What sets them apart from each other is not only the colors of their uniforms (like sports team players)...

...but what they play and how they play.

The LAUSD All District High School Honor Band plays it hard...

...nailing every note...

...and marching as though their lives depended on it.

You can tell a lot about these bands by the music they choose, too—whether it's "Don't Stop Believin'" by the Saratoga High School Marching Band and Color Guard...

...or "Oklahoma!" (from the musical of the same name) by the Jenks High School Trojan Pride from Jenks, OK.

Of course, the musical selection can really lend itself to some creative choreography...

...which is good, because everyone in a marching band is a de facto dancer.

The Trojan Pride's routine was so complicated, they needed three times as many directors as any other, facing from the front and back sides of the field.

No wonder they collapsed at the end.

The Franklin Regional High School Panther Band from Pennsylvania relied on pop culture references, giant props, and familiar 80s tunes like "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and "Walking on Sunshine" to get the crowd on their feet...

...while the band from Toho High School in Nagoya, Japan performed stoically and traditionally (with the exception of adding a singer in a kimono). It was impressive even if you only consider that they don't have a football field to practice on in their homeland.

If all marching bands seem to blend in together, then the Centro Escolar José María Morelos y Pavón – Aguilas Doradas Marching Band from Puebla, Mexico is certainly the antidote to that.

They performed their cantantes mexicanas amidst swirling Mexican flags, under the protection of their gold-colored gladiator helmets, as the sun began to set.

All that hard work certainly paid off, at least this year. It's nice to end the year on a high note for once.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Horses of the Rose Parade
Photo Essay: The Floats of the Rose Parade, 2015
Photo Essay: The House of Chewing Gum and Roses

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