I was in drill team in junior high, and was friends with many band members whom would eventually go to Arcadia High School and become members of the Apache Marching Band. I wanted to try out for drill team in high school, but I just couldn't fit it into my schedule, and they didn't seem to allow violins in the marching band (something about poking other people's eyes out with the bow). So I stayed on the sidelines and cheered on my friends, and volunteered at the annual West Arcadia Band Review (now the Arcadia Festival of Bands). AHS has had one of the best marching band programs in the country for as long as I can remember, and every time I see them, a smile beams on my face and I feel a swell of pride in my heart.
This November, as I was watching the Festival of Bands, I read the program and realized that beloved director Tom Landes would be retiring this year after 33 years at AHS. Wow. He has always been the ultimate band director to me, and tears welled up in my eyes, thinking of how many sweepstakes awards his bands have brought back to the band room. I remember the 6-foot tall trophies from the championships in Long Beach, and I remember the metronome that would play all day in the band room during championship week, reminding the band of their discipline, and tick tocking in their heads the proper beat so that they would live and breathe it until they brought that trophy home again.
This year would be especially sweet as AHS was again invited to be in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses parade, now its 15th time. Back when I was a senior in high school, since I wasn't in the band, my friend Mona convinced me to try out with her for the Pasadena City College Honor Band, so that we could march in the parade, even though it wouldn't be side-by-side with our band friends. That was an experience I'll never forget, partly because I fell down, but mostly because I got to have that feeling of marching down Colorado Blvd on January 1, 1985.
I wish that I could have been at Disneyland on New Year's Eve to see the Apaches march down Main Street, but I was busy singing my heart out in church, so that was not meant to be. I'm glad, though, that this video is available. They don't actually start playing until at least 2 minutes in, and then they don't march until about 6 minutes in, but it still makes me happy. I'm impressed that they brought the arrow banner to the resort, because there are some tight sections on the parade route, and I wonder if they kept it straight during those parts. I'm glad that my friends got to witness their huge wonderfulness while they were there, and could share their observations at dinner.
By then, I had already decided that I just HAD to go to the Rose Parade this year. Landes' last year, and AHS is in the parade? How could I not go and honor my school? So I got up on January 2nd (no Rose Parade on Sundays), took the metro to Allen St, walked with the masses, found a spot where I could stand directly behind people whom were seated, and cheered on my favorite band. I yelled for them, and the kind people around me helped me out because I raved about them. "THAT'S MY SCHOOOOL!!!!" There really is nothing like hearing the opening drum beats of the Apache Marching Band. I also love the fact that they brought out the traditional banner for the parade (they used to march with it in competition, but now use individual letters per Apache Princess). That's Mr. Landes in the black hat and white beard.
After they passed my area, I waited a while to see a couple more units. Then they were far down the street, and I tried to catch up, going up and down side streets, tripping over people in the crowds, and hearing the Kinect float music over and over, which made me nuts. I finally decided to just get to the end of the route and see all of the bands from there. The Marine Corps, AHS, and PCC were the only ones that held their composure until the end (lucky for them, they were early performers and beat much of the heat). I did see one of the banner gals from another school faint just as soon as they halted. I saw another guy suffering from dehydration, too. Sometimes the water volunteers got right in front of the bands, or in the middle of them, and it kind of annoyed me. Maybe you should wait until they are At Ease before you attack them with water. I know that they need the water, but it's just inconsiderate when the drum major and/or director is trying to congratulate them on their performance and get them all to understand that In N Out is to the left, and bathrooms are to the right. The volunteers also got in the way of some of my pictures, which was annoying, but I was way too tired to stand up and take better pictures.
My favorite non-Arcadia band was the Kyoto Tachibana HS band. I had watched their Bandfest performance live online, and they were quite entertaining with their dance-style marching. When they were released, a few of them walked up to me and said "Happy New Year" and waved. It was so cute! I wish that I had taken a picture with them, but that didn't happen.
Afterward, I bought a ticket to see the floats, and ate an oh-so-nutritious breakfast of kettlecorn. While I was seated on the grass, a vendor guy offered me cotton candy. I wasn't going to take it, but I guess he just wanted to go home, because he told me that it was free, so I took it. I had to wait a while until they opened the gates for the float viewing. Even more walking. I wanted to get a AHS pin, but they were sold out. I got a temporary Girl Scouts 100 tattoo on my hand, though. The floats were beautiful, and I marveled mostly at the sprays of orchids on the Thailand float. Wow.
|Orchids made of orchids|
|My favorite whimsical float (La Canada Flintridge)|
|Another beauty: The Year of the Dragon (China Airlines)|
Then I had to somehow get back to the metro station. MORE walking until I got to the bus stop, and then there were no seats, so I had to stand, but it didn't take that long. Then I went home and watched the Bob and Stephanie on the KTLA broadcast of the parade, because I never can get enough of it on Rose Parade day. I had a great day celebrating the 123rd Tournament of Roses. Thank you, T of R, for honoring my school with its 15th invitation. Congratulations, Mr. Landes, on yet another job well done!