Students march in Rose Bowl parade


Nick Wood

Senior Corey Chrudimsky plays the saxophone in a Bowie Outdoor Performing Ensemble performance. Chrudimsky is one of four students selected to participate in the Rose Bowl parade band.

Claire Scott, Dispatch Reporter

Crowds of people cheer as they are surrounded by the cold California air. The annual Rose Bowl Parade has just started, and decorative floats covered with flowers flow through the streets. People have traveled from all across the states to celebrate the parade and watch the Rose Bowl football game, both of which were held on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California. 

The parade also features marching bands with members from all over the country. To participate, students in band programs can submit an audition by going to the Tournament of Roses website. Junior Preston Hatem, senior Manny Cruz, senior Corey Chrudimsky, and senior Brandon McNamara traveled to Pasadena to march in the parade.

During my freshman year in marching season we were at [Bands of America] San Antonio during a retreat and they announced this amazing opportunity to be a part of an honor band with bands across the country,” junior Preston Hatem said. “I decided to give it a shot and try the audition out. About three months later I got an email back with the good news.” 

Students from all different grades have the opportunity to audition, but only a few are selected each year.

“I applied when I was a sophomore and I had to submit a video audition and get some recommendations.” senior Brandon Mcnamara said. “We were picked from I think like 41 states that all those students came from so it was really cool just getting such a diverse group of people together to do something really special and make music together.”

Regular marching band students, leadership members, and drum majors can audition for the parade because the requirements aren’t as selective of the status, but rather the ability to play.

“The event is important to bands across the United States as it shows what any other musician, dancer or anyone can do and be a part of if they try it out and put their mind to it,” Hatem said.

While the spotlight is on the students who physically went to the parade, they emphasize the support of their directors and teachers who helped them get there.

This is an opportunity provided to students every year,” band director Jennifer Hanford said. “The Bowie band students love marching band, so any event involved they are usually interested in.”

The trip to Pasadena was about a week-long and ended with a day at Disneyland. There were plenty of opportunities for the students to make memories, from marching in the parade to meeting new people.

“It was really fun on the last day of the trip when we all went to Disney together and Corey and I dressed up in Hooters outfits and went down Splash Mountain,” McNamara said. “Of course, as it got dark it got really really cold but it was a lot of fun.”

The parade consisted of a five-and-a-half-mile route along the streets of Pasadena, which took the students about two hours to complete.

“A memorable moment I had during the trip was the five-mile march down Colorado Boulevard,” Hatem said. “Though it wouldn’t seem like the fun part of the trip, it goes by faster than you think. At the end of the five miles, In-N-Out was stationed ready to provide thousands of burgers for everyone who marched during the parade.”

Band students who were a part of the parade had an opportunity to meet other members across the country who are also passionate about music.

“We had this ballroom that we always rehearsed in,” senior Corey Chrudimsky said. “There was this one time where we all lined up and we played a piece together and the way that the sound bounced off of the walls was just amazing.”

There are many reasons as to why specific students were chosen to march in Pasadena, however, students had different opinions as to why the parade was important for them this year.

“It was a really cool experience to have represented the nation and our school,” Mcnamara said, “It was great to have played in such a great ensemble with older members.”

Because of the pandemic, the 2021 Rose Bowl parade was delayed to this year. 

“It was a way to show that we’re all united, especially after coming out of COVID-19,” Chrudimsky said.

The opportunity to be a part of national parades and events doesn’t come often for high school band students. The Rose Bowl parade was one of just a few, like the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York, that students have the opportunity to be a part of.

“I probably will not have many opportunities like that again because I don’t know how much more music I’ll do in my life after this year,” Mcnamara said, “It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Although music can enable a career, not all high school band students continue on the music path.

“I don’t think I will have any opportunities like this again just because it is so unique and there are not a lot of programs that go march in a national coverage event,” Chrudimsky said.

Band students can audition to participate in the next parade, which will be held on Jan. 2, 2023.

This was an overall amazing way to spend a week of my winter break,” Hatem said. “I’m so glad that I auditioned and I hope that for the next years to come many more will continue to audition for the event.”