Birdville band units headed to California

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- Days before departing to play for an international television audience at the Rose Parade, the All-Birdville Marching Band will strut its stuff for hometown fans.

Portions of Mid-Cities Boulevard will be shut down on Dec. 22 for a dress rehearsal by the 540-student band and color guard.

The students -- from Birdville, Haltom and Richland high schools -- will wear specially made blue, white and gold uniforms and play tunes with patriotic themes honoring the armed forces and the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

The program includes a specially arranged medley of armed forces songs, March Grandioso and American Woman.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Haltom High drum major Aakash Parlecha, 18, a senior. "I think it is a great opportunity to practice for what is to come on New Year's Day, and it is a great way for the community to be involved in what we are working on."

Students paid about $750 each toward the cost of the trip, which will total about $830,000. Band fundraisers and donations have totaled about $35,000 and the school district paid about $385,000 to cover airfare and uniform jackets, said Daniel Detrick, fine arts director for Birdville schools.

The students will fly out to California on Dec. 27, the beginning of a week of whirlwind activities in and around Pasadena, home to the Tournament of Roses.

While tens of thousands of people will line the streets of Pasadena to watch the New Year's Day parade live, millions more are expected to take in the color and pageantry on TV in the hours before the 97th Rose Bowl Game.

One of 22 bands in the parade, Birdville was the only one from Texas until TCU was invited to play in the game against the University of Wisconsin, giving the Horned Frog Marching Band a berth in the parade.

The addition of TCU's band is exciting for Birdville High tenor saxophonist Connor Teague and his brother, Chase Teague, 19, a sophomore trumpet player in the Horned Frog band.

"We got him a ticket too, so he'll get to see me," said Chase Teague, who graduated from Birdville High in 2009. "We'll miss each other in the parade, but my mom is going to record it."

To prepare, students have been holding fundraising events and jogging after school and on Saturday mornings. The musicians need to be in good physical shape to tackle the 5.5 mile parade route, plus a mile walk to and from the site, all while carrying their instruments, Detrick said. They'll finish the conditioning program with a 10 kilometer run together on Dec. 18.

Last month, the three bands began meeting weekly at the BISD Fine Arts/Athletics Complex for intense, three-hour rehearsals.

Parade marching is a different skill than the halftime and competition shows that the marching bands are used to each fall, requiring students to pay close attention to their posture and their surroundings to maintain even spacing, the three band directors said.

Students practiced today marching in a straight line and making right turns.

The Rose Parade makes a 105-degree turn from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado Boulevard at "TV Corner," said Jason Bird, Richland High School's band director.

"There are TV cameras right there. People all over the world are right there," Bird told the students. "You have to be incredible with your technique. You must look like a billion bucks."

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326