Monthly Archives: December 2009

Band to Ring in the New Year Counting ZZZZs

Photographer Meegan Reid and I ahd a fund day with the band as they played tourist on the Santa Monica Pier.

The ocean was beautiful, and so was the weather. It was a little disorienting to be walking around in T-shirts in December.

They ate dinner at a nice Italian restaurant near the pier, joined by many parents, grandparents and others who are here for the parade. It was disorienting yet again for me to see familiar South Kitsap faces in the middle of Los Angeles.

Tonight the kids won’t be partying to welcome the New Year. With an early start and a long march yet ahead of them, they’re supposed to be asleep by 9:30 p.m.

Meegan and I have to hit the hay as well – hoping Ducks and Bucks fans at the Safari Inn, where we’re staying, won’t be too rowdy.

Catch you all tomorrow. Chris Henry, reporter

Seagulls and Surf
Seagulls and Surf

Of Horse Poop and Brass Spit

From the past two posts and a couple of phone calls I’ve had with blogger/band groupie Kathryn Simpson, it’s apparent the band is burning the candle at both ends. Glad to hear they’re hanging in there and sounding brassy as ever.

Speaking of brass, anyone who’s ever played a brass instrument knows that the process generates a considerable amount of spit. Before the band left for L.A., I was chatting with drum major Paulla Santos, and I asked her what brass players will do about that during the parade. I know from watching my husband play French horn that occasionally, when there’s a break in the music, he pulls one of the little valve thingys off and dumps the built up saliva out of the horn. But you can’t very well do that while marching along. It just wouldn’t look dignified.

Paulla told me that marching band instruments have spit valves for on-the-go dumping. The player just flips the valve and out it goes. Which got me thinking, there are 23 bands in the parade, most with 200+ members. Granted not all are brass players but, still there’s got to be hundreds of little showers of spit raining down on the streets of Pasadena every few minutes.

I asked my husband to estimate how much spit he thought would be generated in over the four hours of the parade. He guessed 10 gallons. I wonder if the Tournament of Roses folks have that statistic handy anywhere.

Oh, well, I’ve obviously had way too much time to think about this parade.

Speaking of which, Paulla and I also discussed horse poop. The band leaders got a Power Point from the Tournament of Roses folks detailing protocol for all sorts of situations. The Rose Parade, unlike other parades, doesn’t include stops (handy for scooping up horse poop). Things just keep moving along without a lot of opportunity to scoop, so if said poop falls in an inconvenient place, bands just have to power on through it. I’m sure, if that does happen, they’ll handle it with grace.

Chris Henry, reporter

P.S. Kitsap Sun photographer Meegan Reid and I are at the airport ready to fly to L.A. and meet up with the band this afternoon in Santa Monica.

The past three days…

So three days ago the band had our first visit to Disneyland.  We had the full day to roam around the park. Yesterday we had a partial day in the park, and it was crowded! The reason why we only got a half day in the park was that in the evening the band got to open the holiday parade and march through Disneyland. Everyone finally got the feeling that Mr. Grams had been telling the band about. Then today we had Bandfest. The crowd loved us. We blew them all away with our wall of sound. And last but not least we had our dance with three other bands. It sounds like that everyone had a great time. The DJ was an awsome one. He is an old bandie and he even marched in the Rose Parade.

Megan Sanger ~ Mello

SKHS Marching Band at BandFest 2009

Wednesday was a working day for the SKHS Marching Band.  They left the hotel at about 8:45 am and headed to the Rose Bowl Stadium to have their pictures taken. Then off the Pasadena City College for the Tournament of Roses BandFest.  

It was raining.  There was a mix-up about their lunch. They were tired.  You would think that would be three strikes towards disaster.  But NOT for the SKHS Marching Band!  Mr. Grams gave them a rousing pep talk, they reached deep within to their inner WOLVES, and they rose as a PACK to the challenge to give it all they had and hold nothing back in their performance. 

To stay out of the rain, the bands warmed up in the covered multi-level parking garage next to the Pasadena City College Stadium.  South Kitsap took their turn warming up extremely seriously.  They were here to represent South Kitsap well and were determined to not let anything deter them from their mission! 


2009 SKHS Bandfest Drum

Some from the band were up until 1:00 am changing the ‘heads’ on the drums.  I wondered what that was all about.  Why would they go to all that trouble??  I didn’t realize until the drummers pulled out their drums this morning why that was so important.  Don’t they look grand?


2009 SKHS Bandfest 6

Wolf Pride!

2009 SKHS Bandfest 5

Wolf Pride!

2009 SKHS Bandfest 4

Wolf Pride!

2009 SKHS Bandfest 3

Wolf Pride!

2009 SKHS Bandfest 1

Wolf Pride!

2009 SKHS Band Marching Out at Bandfest2

The SKHS Marching Band circling the stadium after a superb performance at BandFest!

2009 SKHS Band Marching Out at Bandfest

The band marching past the cheering crowd at BandFest!

2009 SKHS Band Majors with Dr Cheney

Dr. Bev Cheney (retired SKSD Superintendent) came to Pasadena just to hear the band play in BandFest and at the Tournament of Roses parade!  Here she is (on the right) with the three student leaders of the band, Simone, James, and Paulla (left to right).

2009 SKHS Band Big Drummers

Sharp and attentive!

2009 SKHS Bandfest Mr Grams

Intensity was the word of the day!

Today was a proud day for South Kitsap.  Our kids represented our community with distinction, Wolf Pride, and great sound!  It was an enormous pleasure to be in the stands today and hear strangers talk about our band as very talented and strong.  One wondered how we could be so small and yet produce the best and strongest sound.  The only answer…  Excellence has not been considered optional for the South Kitsap Wolves!   It was a great day to be a Wolf!


-Kathryn Simpson

SKHS Band’s Disney Performance

I hope these photos and videos give you a glimpse at the terrific performance of the SKHS Marching Band at Disneyland on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, my equipment and limited skills do not do the band justice. 


SKHS Marching Band performing at Disneyland!
SKHS Marching Band performing at Disneyland!

The band led the 5:10pm parade at Disneyland.  The lights of Disney during the Holidays were on in full glory and it was magical. The maroon uniforms of the band and their stellar appearance fit perfectly.  Some of the kids later said it was the highlight of their trip… so far.  Those of us, from South Kitsap, let out a big yell for them as they were announced and introduced.  We had staked out our spots on the parade route almost two hours in advance.

The band in their "spotlight" Disney performance.
The band in their “spotlight” Disney performance.



The band members arrived at Disneyland about 11:00 on Tuesday and had a few hours to enjoy Disney before meeting at 3:00 to get ready for their performance.  They were met at 3:00 by Team Disney near Toon Town, where they were moved into the staging area (very few ‘outsiders’ ever see the Disney staging areas) and the band members were very impressed with how everything was choreographed and prepared by Disney. While the band was preparing, the groupies (Steph, most chaperones, many parents and family, and I) went and staked out the best viewing spot along the route.   For us, it was right in front of “It’s a Small World”, just past Cinderella’s Castle and right below the monorail. 


After the performance, the band had dinner at Bubba Gump’s Restaurant.  I heard it was a lot of fun, but this blogger was too tired and went back to the hotel for a nap!
My video skills are less than stellar, but I am posting this so that you can hear the audio and see the band members.  They were awesome!

Some Bands Travel Far, Overcome Obstacles to March in Rose Parade

South Kitsap High School Marching Band is one of 22 bands chosen to perform New Year’s Day in the 2010 Rose Parade.

South Kitsap High School Band
South Kitsap High School Band

The band will play a field show at Bandfest, the Tournament of Roses’ showcase of Rose Parade musicians. Bandfest extends over two days, with three shows. South Kitsap is scheduled to play at 2 p.m. today (Dec. 30) at Pasadena City College.

South Kitsap will represent the Northwest region in the Rose Parade. Also from the Northwest, the Oregon Marching Band is included since the University of Oregon Ducks will be playing in the Rose Bowl Game.

Bands come from all over the country and from abroad. Some are invited back year after year. The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band, for example, has played in the parade for 90 years. South Kitsap was among more than 60 bands competing for 16 audition slots in the parade.

International bands in this year’s parade include one from Japan, the Kansai Honor Green Band of Kyoto, and the Latin Band Pedro Molina from Guatemala (see video at bottom of post).

As far as size goes, South Kitsap is, as drum major Paulla Santos says, “a little fish in a big pond.” With 109 members, they are less than half the size of most bands, which typically have 200 members or more. The largest, to the best of my knowledge, is the Los Angeles Unified School District band, with 358 members.

The smallest band in the parade is the Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Band with 68 members total, including 13 brass, 13 percussion, 11 woodwinds, 2 banner carriers, 29 marching assistants, sighted individuals who march alongside band members. These marching assistants range in age from junior high through grandparents ages. All are volunteers.

The instrumental music program at the publicly funded school had been dormant for 13 years, when Carol Agler, now music director, joined the staff in 1998. She discovered the band instruments in storage and petitioned to revive the program. Agler, who has been a driving force behind creation of the band, is listed as assistant director. Dan Kelley, a trumpet player who has been blind from birth, is the band director.

Band members learn their music using a computer program called SmartMusic that allows them to hear their parts individually or with the band as slowly as they choose. Many of the band members have “perfect pitch,” meaning they can identify any pitch they hear. They work independently with SmartMusic to learn their music. Others read enlarged music or Braille music as they use SmartMusic.

Their entry information includes the following statement:
“The Rose Parade provides an opportunity to demonstrate to the WORLD what incredible musicians blind and visually impaired students can be, and to provide a model for other programs and students. We hope to give visually impaired students the imagination and tools to reach their full potential. We hope other band directors will follow our lead and readily include visually impaired students in their marching bands.”

Latin Band Pedro Molina, Guatemala, from YouTube

Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun Reporter

Of Floats, Flowers and Snowboarding Bulldogs.

Before they march in the Rose Parade, South Kitsap High School Marching Band members will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the elaborate floats for the parade are constructed.

Among this year’s entries is a contender for the world’s longest float, featuring five snowboarding bulldogs, the entry representing Natural Balance Pet Foods. The Guinness World Records folk will be there today to certify, according to Daniel Bernstein of Bernstein Entertainment, which designed the float. Check it out.

KTLA 5 Morning News Interviews – Natural Balance Part 2 from Natural Balance on Vimeo.

Rose Parade float building began simply enough. Throw a few flowers on some horse drawn carriages (or what have you) and call it good.

An Early Rose Parade Entry
An Early Rose Parade Entry

The flower theme has persisted over the years as the float have gotten more complicated, with computerized movement and other fancy twists.

The Road to Freedom Float, 2001
The Road to Freedom Float, 2001

Float building today is a multi-million dollar business. The Tournament of Roses has high standards for acceptance of entries. Applications for floats are accepted usually more than a year in advance, and float construction begins shortly after the previous year’s parade ends.

Family Road Trip
Family Road Trip

According to the Tournament of Roses Web site, “The process starts with a specially-built chassis, upon which is built a framework of steel and chicken wire. In a process called ‘cocooning,’ the frame is sprayed with a polyvinyl material, which is then painted in the colors of the flowers to be applied later. Every inch of every float must be covered with flowers or other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds or bark. Volunteer workers swarm over the floats in the days after Christmas, their hands and clothes covered with glue and petals. The most delicate flowers are placed in individual vials of water, which are set into the float one by one.”

Springtime Treasures
Springtime Treasures

Computerized animation has had an enormous impact on Rose Parade floats. Recent Parade floats have featured King Kong stomping through a floral jungle, a guitar-playing dinosaur, pigs dancing the hula and a 60-foot-tall talking robot, all controlled by computers.
Hats Off in Celebration
Hats Off in Celebration

But through all the changes, the Rose Parade has remained true to its floral beginnings, and each float is decorated with more flowers than the average florist will use in five years.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap Reporter

Monday at Disney

Disneyland's California AdventureMonday was a great day of fun for the SKHS Band at Disneyland.   The band practiced in the hotel’s overflow parking lot between 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. and then loaded onto the busses for the 25 minute ride south to Disneyland.  Monday was a beautiful day at Disneyland and the band members were up to the challenge of maximizing their fun time! 

Colin, Hailey, Ben, and Jackie
Colin, Hailey, Ben, and Jackie

Band members arrived at Disney about 11:00 am and stayed until after the evening fireworks at 9:30 pm.  We caught up with several members of the band during the day and found them full of energy and constantly smiling.

Rumor has it that there wasn’t a frown all day… well… except for the two kids who lost their park-hopper passes.  They had frowns.  Big reminder… NEVER lose your park-hopper Disney Pass.  When you do, you have to depend on the good grace of Disney and a couple of honest looking chaperones to turn those frowns upside down.  Fortunately, Disney was gracious, the chaperones looked honest, and no one even missed the 6:00 pm mandatory check-in. 

Premium Granny Smith apples from Washington
Premium Granny Smith apples from Washington

As we were browsing the various Disney shops, I came across the candy shoppe on Main Street that sells wonderful caramel apples.  As the candy maker was preparing the apples for dipping, I noticed that Disney uses premium Granny Smith apples from our home state of Washington.

Band members enjoying Disney's California Adventure
Band members enjoying Disney's California Adventure

Several families of band members arrived today to enjoy the rest of the week with the band and watch the parade in person on January 1st.  The excitement is mounting.  Tomorrow the band performs at Disneyland.  Wednesday is Bandfest.  And, Friday is the big day!


Monday’s Disneyland fun finished in great Disney style with the 9:30 pm Holiday fireworks display.  This very tired blogger was happy to see the fireworks and then head back to the hotel at about 10:00pm!

Fireworks cap a fun day at Disneyland!
Fireworks cap a fun day at Disneyland!



-Kathryn Simpson

SK Band Does Disneyland

On Sunday, the band arrived in Los Angeles.

Waiting at the Terminal
Waiting at the Terminal

They had a busy, somewhat sleep-deprived day touring L.A. and Hollywood. They even got some props for their upcoming performance in the Rose Parade from a perfect stranger.

Today, they take in Disneyland. Tomorrow they play in the Disneyland parade.

Disneyland's Magic Castle
Disneyland's Magic Castle

Here’s some stuff you may or may not know about the Magic Kingdom, courtesy of a Disney-phile named Karen who cites the following sources: “Disneyland – Your Official Souvenir Guide” circa 1992, “Mouse Tales: A behind-the-ears look at DISNEYLAND”, David Koenig, Bonaventure Press, “Trivial Pursuit Featuring The Magic of Disney”, Selchow & Righter.

On Main Street U.S.A., “Walt refused to allow sharp 90 degree corners on Main Street sidewalks. He felt they would be too rigid and threatening, and therefore all curbs have gentle, rounded corners.” (No wonder visitors feel like they’re in a Disney cartoon.)

In Adventureland, “Original plans for “The Jungle Cruise” called for real wild animals, but zoologists warned Walt that the animals would always be asleep during operating hours.” (Plus the fact they were demanding overtime.)

In New Orleans Square:
* “Facial designs for the figures in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ were modeled after staff members at Walt Disney Imagineering.”
* “The organ in the ‘Haunted Mansion’ is the same one used in the movie ‘20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.’”
* “The two rides that are actually haunted according to many of the park’s employees are ‘The Haunted Mansion’ and ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.'”

In Frontierland, “In the early years of the park, the Rivers of America was stocked with catfish and fishing was allowed off the docks of “Tom Sawyer Island.”

In Fantasyland, “Walt Disney’s family crest can be seen above the archway at the entrance to “Sleeping Beauty Castle.”

In Tomorrowland, “In the early years of the ‘Submarine Voyage,’ ‘real’ mermaids could be found atop the coral reef in the lagoon.”

In General:
* “Wild cats are allowed to roam the entire park, coming out only at night, to kill the rats which once infested much of the park.” (This sounds like an urban myth. Band kids, check it out.)

* “One of comedian Steve Martin’s first jobs was as a clerk in the old Merlin’s Magic Shop.”

* “Disneyland greeted its one-millionth guest after only seven weeks of operation.”

Thanks, Karen.

The Trip of a Lifetime…

Today has been a REALLY long day. Having not slept well the night before and being at the school at 4 am, it’s been hard to stay up this whole time. As usual, ourplane was delayed, but we still ended up being on time. We played tourists by eating lunch at the Farmer’s Market, and then touring Hollywood; the Sunset strip and Ss.anta Monica Blvd being the main attractions. I do hope that this trip does become a little better. Today was a really stressful day, for it being long and people being irritable, things just got crazy. But I do hope after a good nights sleep, everyone in the morning will be a happier person.