At the beginning of each year, global attention is focused on Pasadena’s annual Rose Parade. The parade was first celebrated more than a century ago, and its tradition and spirit have continued to thrive as time has passed.
This year, the 126th Rose Parade featured the Arcadia High School (AHS) percussion team, including Arcadia’s A, Open, and World drumlines, as well as El Dorado High School’s drumlines. Participants underwent rigorous practice routines to prepare for the renowned festival.
According to junior Ethan Chen, “both schools practiced separately in advance, learning the choreography, the music, and getting the basic hang of the routine.”
Members endured practices that usually lasted about four to five hours long, due to the large number of performers. Chen explained that there were performing groups from other local high schools and organizations, including the Glendale High School Dance Team, professional dancers, and trampoline artists. Practices took place every weekend for three weeks, with a few additional ones held during the week.
When asked about the hardest practice during the entire preparation, Chen mentioned the one on New Year’s Day which took place from 2 am to 5 am. He stated, “It was freezing cold in the morning, and we had to practice for three whole hours!”
The Arcadia ensemble had a unique experience this year, as it participated in the first opening “flash mob” in Rose Parade history. Chen told JSR that he and five other snare drummers were given the opportunity to sit in the stands and open the parade.
“We had never done anything like the flash mob before,” Chen said, “and we were the opening show.”
Overall, Chen enjoyed his experience.
“Performing felt different than anything anyone in this ensemble had ever done before because we worked with… professional dancers, makeup artists, and designers. We had to put on bright smiles and happy faces!” he stated. “Other than having to march five miles, the Rose Parade was overall an amazing experience.”
Junior Gina Groesbeck, a long time fan of the parade, attended this year’s event as an audience member. A member of the AHS Orchestra, she expressed some disappointment that the orchestra wasn’t asked to participate. However, she still had a good time.
“Being a part of the audience is great [because] you get to notice things you never really see from a performer’s perspective,” she told JSR in an interview.
“One thing I’ve noticed,” she added, “is that the show has changed greatly over the past few years. The people, performance, and the setups have all varied tremendously… [and] the parade definitely gets better every year.”