KAYSVILLE — It’s less than a week before the Davis High School Marching Band leaves for California to participate in the Rose Parade, and the nearly 300 students involved have dedicated hours each week, marching up and down the streets behind the school to get ready.
The band is used to marching in parades, but nothing at the level of the Rose Parade. The Days of ’47 parade, the longest parade the band has marched in, was 2 miles, less than half the length of the 5.5 miles of the Rose Parade.
In marching time, that’s close to two and a half hours, all while holding and playing weighty instruments.
For the last two months, the band has marched a couple days a week. It started with a couple of miles at a time, slowly building up to 5 miles. Friday was the first time the band marched the complete parade length.
Band director Steven Hendricks has asked the students to do at least 20 minutes of physical activity on the days they’re not marching to maintain their stamina. In addition, he has forbidden them from any activities in which they might get injured, such as skiing, playing basketball and jumping on trampolines.
“I need you to know how important this is,” Hendricks told students at an earlier rehearsal. “It will be a sad day if we leave to march down the street, and you are sitting there, unable to march after all of the hard work and effort you have put into this these past few months.”
Friday’s march may have been cold — 39 degrees — but it was a far cry from Monday, when band members were pummeled with freezing rain that turned to snow halfway through practice.
The cold isn’t the most difficult part for senior Aaron McColley, who plays the trumpet. “I definitely say the most difficult part is building up the stamina in our lips. It takes a lot of playing every day to get our chops ready for the long march.”
McColley practices 30 minutes to an hour every day, on top of regular band practice, to get his lips conditioned to play for more than two hours while marching. He is looking forward to seeing the effort pay off during the Rose Parade.
“Just being able to say I’ve been a part of something that awesome will make all the hard work worthwhile,” he said.
During rehearsals, the band has had to practice doing 110-degree turns. Normally, parade routes have standard 90-degree turns, but there are a couple of spots along the Rose Parade route that require a wider turn. It takes precision to make those turns without falling out of line.
While marching, the band will be playing five songs in a continuous loop, with short breaks after each song while they march in cadence. However, when they are on camera, they will be playing “Don’t Stop Believing” for about 15 minutes with no breaks.
Senior Heather Twogood, who plays the baritone, said holding up her heavy instrument for that long is a grueling task, but it’s worth every minute.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everybody to go to the Rose Bowl parade and experience something we’ve never experienced before,” she said.
No one knows the experience better than Hendricks, who took the Davis High School Band to the Rose Parade back in 2003. It’s an experience not many get to enjoy.
“Very few bands ever get the opportunity to do this,” he said. “It is such a unique thing and happens so rarely for high school bands, and for us to do so twice is pretty amazing.”