A Taste of Japan

Toho High School Dragon Band Welcomes Tournament of Roses® President and First Lady with Sights, Sounds and Delicious Cuisine

Last month, Tournament of Roses 2016 President Mike Matthiessen and First Lady Ann traveled to Japan to welcome the Toho High School Dragon Band to the 2016 Rose Parade®. Check out Ann’s recollection of their Japanese adventure below:

“Our trip to Japan was a whirlwind of activities and unforgettable moments! In between sightseeing and spending time with the Toho High School Wind Ensemble, we enjoyed a variety of delicious Japanese cuisine (including eel) under the guidance of our host Mr. Kumagai, the Executive Director of the Green Band (and well-known food blogger). But as always, our favorite part of any band trip, is visiting the band and meeting the students.

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We visited many Japanese temples, shrines, and castles in the cities of Nara, Kyoto, and Nagoya. My personal favorite was the beautiful Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) in Kyoto.

The members of the Toho High School Wind Ensemble delighted us with a performance at their high school in Nagoya.  Following their performance, Mike presented the Tournament of Roses flag while their proud parents looked on. Just when we thought the performances were over, we discovered that they had a big surprise in store for us – an original song written just for their trip to Pasadena!

 

Mike and I were very moved by the beautiful lyrics of the song called “In the Name of Love.”  Following the performance, we greeted students and parents in the cafeteria while signing 2016 Rose Parade posters.  Throughout the trip many pictures were taken, memories made and new friendships formed.  Arigato (thank you), Toho High School, for an amazing adventure.

 

While serious and focused throughout their performance, members of the Toho High School Dragon Band were all smiles while getting their posters signed by President Matthiessen.

While serious and focused throughout their performance, members of the Toho High School Dragon Band were all smiles while getting their posters signed by President Matthiessen.

With only six months until America’s New Year Celebration®, Mike and Ann will spend the summer visiting participating marching bands in the 2016 Rose Parade. Which Adventure is next for the president and first lady? Stay tuned to find out!

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A Guatemalan Adventure: Tournament of Roses® welcomes Latin Band Pedro Molina to 2016 Rose Parade®

One of the many responsibilities and privileges of the Tournament of Roses President is to personally invite and welcome each participating band to the upcoming Rose Parade. While some bands trips only require a short drive from Tournament House in Pasadena, others require international flights and translators.

Last week, following their band visit to Saratoga High School in California, Tournament of Roses 2016 President Mike Matthiessen and First Lady, Ann set off on an adventure to Guatemala to do just that. Check out Ann’s recollection of their Guatemalan adventure below–

“Our band trip to Guatemala to meet the Latin Band Pedro Molina was absolutely amazing!  We were thrilled to have fellow Tournament member Ernie Cardenas and his wife Isabel along with us to help translate as the highlight of all of our band trips has been meeting the bands and getting to know the students and band directors.

Mike presented the Tournament of Roses’ flag to the band in the plaza in front of the National Palace, where many Guatemalan bands had gathered and performed throughout the day.  Following the presentation, we toured the National Palace and then headed off to the band’s hometown of Coatepeque.

Mirroring the Rose Parade and its popular ancillary event, Bandfest, the city of Coatepeque hosted a festival which included a parade (that we all got to ride in!) and their own Bandfest, where Mike received the key to the city.  (My favorite part of the parade was seeing all the students of Coatepeque lined up along the parade route in the school uniforms.)

Latin Band Pedro Molina’s performances were lively, exciting and colorful, and the band members loved meeting "Mr. Mike" and taking selfies with him!

Latin Band Pedro Molina’s performances were lively, exciting and colorful, and the band members loved meeting “Mr. Mike” and taking selfies with him!

We were kept very busy during our stay.  Mike had many media interviews, including appearing on the morning talk show, Nuestro Mundo and meeting government officials, including the governor of Guatemala City.

On our final day, we had the privilege of touring the Mayan Ruins at Takalik Abaj Archaeological Park.  The ruins are actually considered a “national park” and we had a fabulous tour with their “ranger.” We ended our visit with a lively game of miniature golf with the band directors, Edwin and Jimmy.  As we drove back to Guatemala City, we were treated to the beautiful scenery of Guatemala which varies from tropical jungles, forests, and volcanoes.  Our Guatemalan adventure was one that we will never forget!”

Mike and Ann’s band adventures will continue throughout the year as they travel around the world to meet each marching band participating in the 2016 Rose Parade. Who will they visit next? Stay tuned to find out!

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The Lone Star’s Dragon Band returns after three decades

This December, 330 dragons will fly into Pasadena, California from Round Rock, Texas to perform in the 126th Rose Parade. While these may not be mythical creatures – Round Rock High School’s Dragon Band promises to leave an equally lasting impression on parade audiences.

Returning to Colorado Boulevard for the first time in 30 years since the band’s first appearance in 1984, the Dragon Band recently welcomed Tournament of Roses President Richard L. Chinen and his wife, Kim, to share their excitement and preparations for their trip to Pasadena.

“Being a part of the Rose Parade gives the students an opportunity to represent themselves, their school and our city in an incredible way that they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives,” said Band Director David Mobley.

“The history of the parade, its tradition and pageantry really give the event deeper meaning for us and for all participants. You get the sense that you’re taking part in history.”

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Drum Major Katie Frock sleeps with her roses on the trip home after receiving them at the Bands of America Grand National Championship – where the Dragon Band was notified of its selection for the 126th Rose Parade. Photo courtesy of Jim Machajewski

Extending true Southern hospitality to the Tournament’s president and first lady, Dragon Band parents and community members kept the Chinens busy with concerts and the band’s Boots & BBQ fundraiser, where President Chinen presented Mobley with the official Tournament flag.

“A band’s participation in the Rose Parade doesn’t just affect its members and their families – but an entire community,” said Chinen. “Kim and I experience the excitement and pride each band’s participation brings from the community’s point of view.”

The Dragon Band is one of two bands from Texas selected to perform in the 126th Rose Parade. Can’t wait until January 1 to see and hear them? Watch their performance at the 2013 Westlake Marching Festival and tell us what you think!

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How far would you travel for the 2015 Rose Parade?

Helsingor Pipegarde Girls Marching Band Answers with More Than 5,500 Miles

The people of Denmark – the world’s happiest country in the world (according to the 2013 World Happiness Report) – rejoiced earlier this month when 2015 Tournament of Roses President, Richard L. Chinen, traveled 5,500 miles to announce that the Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is one of 20 bands participating in the 126th Rose Parade.

While bands spend hours practicing and fundraising in preparation for their trip to Pasadena, President Chinen and his wife, Kim, travel around the world, visiting the bands selected to appear in America’s New Year Celebration.

“Each band visit is so different and unique,” said Chinen. “Kim and I really get a chance to get to know the bands, experience new cultures and hear their stories.”

Last month, the Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band welcomed the Chinens to the coastal town of Helsingor, Denmark, located just 45 minutes north of Copenhagen.

Dressed in their traditional marching band garb — blue jackets, white skirts, white boots and a blue and white hat with a red pom pom, the band performed for the president and first lady before being presented with an official Tournament of Roses flag.

 

Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is made up of 70 young women ranging from ages 9 to 21.

Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is made up of 70 young women ranging from ages 9 to 21.

“Being chosen to perform in the Rose Parade is such an honor,” said Band Director Sanne Bergsaker. “It is an experience that each of the girls – and myself included – will cherish and remember for the rest of their lives.”

Representing a town of approximately 45,000 people and the historic Kronborg Castle – the home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – the Helsingor Pigegarde Girls Marching Band is the first band from Denmark to march down the famous five-and-a-half mile Rose Parade route.

“Each band brings a different element of entertainment to the parade,” said Chinen. “I can’t wait to see the crowd’s reaction when they see the talent of these young women from Denmark.”

Curious about who you’ll see and hear on Jan. 1? Visit our website for the full list of the 2015 Bands selected to participate in the 126th Rose Parade and tell us who you’re most excited to hear!

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