Every year, a few lucky high school marching bands are selected to perform on New Year’s Day at the Rose Parade in Pasadena to hundreds of thousands of viewers in person and millions on television. The Allen Eagle Escadrille is performing in the 2016 Rose Parade, but getting there is no easy task for the largest marching band in the United States. With over 700 students involved, the trip costs them a hefty $1.2 million. Blane Hinton, director of bands at Allen High School in Allen, Texas, explains how they’re doing it.
On the significance of being at the Rose Parade:
It’s really a big deal for us. First of all, it’s about an 18-month process that we had to get together with applications, letters of recommendation from public officials, community leaders. This year’s theme was "Find Your Adventure," and the kids really bought into that, so they’re thrilled to be here.
On how the band raised money for this trip:
Each person had to come up with $1,600. We fundraised about $135,000 through corporate donations, a car wash — we made $10,000 in one day if you can believe that — and then we sold national record mattresses, 140 mattresses for about $25,000. We were able to share that with the kids, about $200 each, so it was about $1,400 that they had to come up with.
On marching bands being big in Texas:
I don’t think that we go outside as much as we need to because there’s so much competition in Texas. We battle each other at our Texas State Marching contests. There’s a lot of really good folks.
On traveling while there are tornados and storms in North Texas:
Yes, it was really scary! It was Saturday night before we left, and we were looking at the weather in Allen where we all live. We were under a tornado warning, which means there was a tornado near us. It was just to the east of us, and that’s kind of where it all started. We were worried about all of the other bands that had to come from Ohio and Iowa and places like that, but they all made it because I saw them this morning at our band directors’ breakfast.
The Allen Eagle Escadrille Rose Parade trip, by the numbers:
That's the number of Allen High School students who will be performing in the parade.
That's how many chaperones are accompanying the band.
That's the number of flights — two charters and six commercial — to get the band from Texas to California.
It will take that many charter buses to get them from point A to point B.
The total cost to get the Allen Eagle Band to the Rose Parade and back home.
Largest marching band in the United States.
Produced by Mukta Mohan.