Morgan Tweddle (left) and Andrew Banick lead Westfield High’s Marching Band at the City of Fairfax Fourth of July Parade.
Photo by Jim Carpenter
Sure, the students in Westfield High’s marching band are enjoying their summer. They’re also busy learning new music and practicing their drills. Besides marching on the Bulldog football field come fall, they’ll be participating Jan. 1 in the Tournament of Roses Parade. And before school ended, Parade President R. Scott Jenkins came here to officially extend the invitation to Westfield’s band. During the band’s awards banquet at the Westfields Marriott, he gave each
member an autographed “Dreams Come True” poster. In return, the band performed a concert for him at GMU’s Center for the Arts.First, though, Jenkins came to the school to meet the students and tell them a bit about the parade. He discussed its history, gave them specifics about what to expect and told them how happy he is that they’ll be participating.“We are thrilled that you’re going to be in our 125 Roses Parade,” he said. “Congratulations.” Held each New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., it’s viewed live by
more than 1 million people and televised to more than 50 million people in the U.S. and 100 million worldwide. And Westfield will be only the third Virginia public high school to ever march in this preRose Bowl parade.Also excited is Westfield Band Director Stephen Panoff. He’s taught high-school band for 30 years, including the past seven at Westfield. “I started thinking about this parade in September 2011,” he said. “Then in January 2012, we got serious about the application process. Over the next several months, we acquired all the materials we needed to submit and then submitted it all in May 2012. The band was officially notified in September 2012 that it was accepted. “It was at a football game, and the kids went nuts,” said Panoff. “I told them only a select number of bands could even think about applying, and we were one of them.”Noting that Westfield’s only 12 years old, he said, “I thought the band’s reputation and body of work might not compare to more established band programs at older schools. But we’ve certainly made our mark and arrived in the band world, and the selection to the Rose Parade is affirmation of all that.”“It’s just exhilarating — a bucket-list achievement for a band director,” continued Panoff. “It’s one of those iconic moments you hope for, and I’m thrilled for the kids.”During his visit to Westfield, Jenkins told the band members Pasadena has about 150,000 people, is surrounded by the San Gabriel Mountains and is home to Cal Tech. The parade began in 1890, and a big reason Pasadena hosts it is because its daytime temperatures on Jan. 1 are generally 60-70 degrees.“The parade organizers wanted all the parade vehicles — now called floats — to be covered by flowers,” said Jenkins. “They played the first Rose Bowl game in 1902 — Michigan vs. Stanford — as a fundraiser for the parade. In the following years, they held ostrich races, elephants vs. camels, and chariot races before returning to football in 1916. Next year will be the 100th Rose Bowl game. He said the five-and-a-half-mile parade is one of the longest in the world, taking 2 hours, 30 minutes to complete. “We shut down one of the freeways so the buses can drop off the bands there,” said Jenkins. “Then they march to Orange Grove Boulevard, where the parade starts and where there used to be orange and lemon groves.” The parade will have 50 floats, 15 horse units and 20 bands — 12 from high schools, two from the universities playing in the Rose Bowl and six repeat bands. For example, said Jenkins, “The Salvation Army Band has been in every Rose Parade since 1920." He said the highlight for Westfield’s band will probably be when it reaches “Camera Corner,” where Orange Grove hits Colorado Boulevard.
“The live broadcasters and 45,000 people in the bandstands will be there,” said Jenkins. “And as you turn that corner, you’ll see 800,000 people.”Knowing the musicians will work up an appetite after all that marching, he said they’ll be able to have lunch at an In-N-Out Burger at the end of the parade route before boarding buses for the airport and home.“There are over 25,000 high-schools in the U.S., so for you to be selected for the parade is really extraordinary,” said Jenkins. “Bands were chosen on the basis of their musical ability, marching talent, showmanship and entertainment value and were then compared to [each other].”He said Westfield’s band was ranked high in many areas, but especially in musical talent. “I know you’ve done a lot of hard work, so congratulations,” said Jenkins. “I look forward to seeing all of you in Pasadena in January 2014.”One boy asked him what made Westfield stand out, and Jenkins replied, “You have a really good sound. Your music is not only technically really good, but your emotions come through, as well — it’s a powerful thing.”Jenkins is one of nearly 1,000 volunteers working all year ’round to plan the parade and football game. It’s his 32 and, he said, “We’re proud to showcase Pasadena at the start of a new year. We provide hope and joy through the beautiful floats, music and college football game.” “We are America’s New Year’s celebration, and you will participate in it, this coming year,” he told the young musicians. “I think a band of your size and talent will be a showcase band for us.”