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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Annual Bands – Part 2

In addition to the Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band, the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and the PCC Herald Trumpets – featured last month in Tournament Times – there are two more bands that are annually part of the Rose Parade.

Each New Year’s Day, the United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band members don their dress blue uniforms and march in perfect step down Colorado Boulevard. The band is made up of three Southern California Marine Bands and while those three bands individually perform over 300 times a year, the Rose Parade is the only event that brings them together as a single performance unit. Each member is fully combat-trained, and many have completed tours of duty in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band

Bandfest allows participating groups to incorporate elements that wouldn’t work at all during the parade, like the U.S. Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band’s recreation of the raising of the American flag at Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

The Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band will make its 40th Rose Parade appearance on January 1, 2014. Band Director Anthony White, who marched in the band in 1985 as a student, leads the distinctive-sounding group, made up of only brass and percussion instruments accompanied by drum majors, flag bearers and banner carriers. Student musicians from all over the nation’s second-largest school district have to be recommended by their instructors; since the band’s inception, over 12,000 students have participated.

LAUSD All District High School Honor Band

The LAUSD All District High School Honor Band has only brass and percussion musicians.

In addition to pleasing the crowds lining the parade route, the Marine Corps and LAUSD bands perform at one of three Bandfest events each year. At Pasadena City College’s Robinson stadium, Bandfest gives these groups – and all of the year’s marching bands – the chance to show off additional field show skills and incorporate performance elements that would be difficult to showcase while keeping a steady 2.5-mile-per-hour pace. Of course, making that 105-degree turn from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado Boulevard is no easy feat itself!

What is your favorite marching band memory, either from watching the Rose Parade or as a musician yourself?

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