Rosemount marching band savors Tournament of Roses participation
Members of the Rosemount High School marching band had heard about the “turn onto Colorado Avenue” prior to performing in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.
All that they had been told could not prepare them for what they saw after all 208 band members executed the technically challenging, 109-degree turn from Orange Grove Boulevard.
“We were at the top of a slight hill that afforded a phenomenal view of the remaining 5 miles of parade route below us. Wow,” said Steve Olsen, band co-director. “We could see the other floats, bands and equestrian units – and thousands of people lining the parade route way off into the distance blending into the mountains. This was a sight that I will never forget, and made the experience quite surreal and dream-like – was this really happening to me?”
“I let my mind wander to think about the parade itself and the people who came out and how much work it took to make such a parade happen,” said band member George Tangen, a drum major. “We made eye contact with military veterans as we saluted the crowd and they would salute back; it gave goose bumps.”
As the music resonated and people cheered the moments happened.
It wouldn’t have happened without the consistent excellence the marching band has exhibited for most of this century. Since 2000, the band has racked up a trophy case full of accolades from Minnesota to Missouri, to the Dakotas, and many other places in between.
As the band’s reputation grew, it came knocking on the Tournament of Roses Parade Committee’s door and was selected last year to enter the prestigious parade.
The parade committee saw the right stuff in the band, not only with its technical and musical excellence, but knowing its members would be dedicated enough to complete the 5.5-mile long route no matter what the conditions.
It was a sunny and warm day, which meant that the parade would test the band’s conditioning.
“It truly was an experience of a lifetime and one that I’ll never forget,” said band member Nicole Hutchinson. “However, also one I’ll be glad never to have to march through again.
“The parade was very tiring, but it was fun to hear the people get excited to hear us play and get mad when we didn’t,” she said. “It was extremely hot so a lot of the time it was hard to focus on anything but how tired I was, yet I knew I needed to push through.”
Hutchinson said her section mates and parade spectators offered words of encouragement during the parade that helped keep her focused and motivated.
“Once we were done with the parade it felt amazing,” she said. “My legs had gone numb from all the marching, and I don’t know how I made it to the buses to change but when I did I just sat and it felt so good.”
“At the end of the parade route, all I could think about is how happy I was that we completed our goal,” Tangen said, “and that I would get to change out of my smelly uniform in just a few minutes. It was a fun experience, and I’m happy that I will get to look back on it for the rest of my life.”
“The throngs of people were always incredibly enthusiastic, appreciative, cheering, applauding, and affirming – making for an adrenaline-pumping and emotional experience that seemed to have no end,” Olsen said.
Olsen said it was absolutely the finest trip he had ever experienced in his 33-year career as a high school band director.
“I am so incredibly proud of all 208 Rosemount High School marching band members,” Olsen said. “They represented our school, community and state with classy excellence at all times during our week-long trip to California.”
In addition to the students, staff and co-directors Leon Sieve and Bo Hoover, Olsen said about 150 family and friends of the band went on a parallel tour. He estimated another 400-plus Rosemount supporters also made the trip.
Rosemount participated in Bandfest, which Olsen said was an eclectic mix of music styles and cultures. The fest included bands from Hawaii, New Orleans, Panama and the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
The band also got to be tourists for some of the time. They visited Venice Beach, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Disneyland, and Universal Studios.
“We wish to thank all of the many people who have supported us in achieving this wonderful endeavor,” Olsen said, referring to the fundraising effort that aimed to raise $2,000 per band member. “We will remember this experience fondly for the rest of our lives.”
The band had many in-kind donors, including Bay & Bay Transportation, of Rosemount, which provided free round-trip shipping of all the band’s equipment.
“This trip was so high profile and provided such an incredible level of affirmation and huge amounts of accolades for our school, band program and students,” Olsen said. “Wow.”