Rose Parade lets All-Birdville band show off sound and size

PASADENA, Calif. -- The drumbeats reverberated and the horns trumpeted as three high school bands from the Birdville school district left five miles of footprints on the streets of Pasadena.

Nearly 550 students from the Northeast Tarrant County district reveled in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as they marched in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, performing before several hundred thousand people lining the parade route as well as a TV audience of tens of millions.

Ryan Barr, a senior tuba player at Richland High School, said that years from now he will show his children pictures and video of his performance.

"I think they'll be impressed," Barr said. "Maybe it will help them get into band when they're my age."

John Wheeler, a senior French horn section leader at Birdville High School, said the experience has been incredible -- he performed in front of his entire family watching on TV around the country.

"It was always something fun, watching the parade," Wheeler said. "It feels really special to be a part of it."

The All-Birdville Marching Band, with members from Birdville, Richland and Haltom high schools, was by far the largest and loudest band in the parade. As the only Texas high school band invited to perform, it drew loud cheers and applause from TCU fans along the route.

For the Teague family, the experience was twice as meaningful.

After seeing son Connor, a junior at Birdville High School, marching and playing his saxophone in the pinnacle of parades, the Teagues saw their older son, Chase, march with the TCU band.

"I don't know [that] many other parents get the opportunity that [my wife] and I have to watch that," Mike Teague said. "We're very, very proud of both of them."

Chase Teague, a 2009 Birdville High graduate, watched as his parents spent the fall scheduling their trip to Southern California, making plans to chaperone his younger brother. All the while, he was waiting to learn the Horned Frogs' postseason fate, not expecting it to take him to Pasadena, too.

"I thought it was pretty cool," he said. "It's a random coincidence that we got to go at the same time and the same year."

Connor Teague said playing in the same parade with his brother is a bonus, but just playing with his peers from the three high schools is a reward in its own.

"I like how all the bands have gotten together," he said. "We're all together having fun, doing what we like to do."

The three bands' preparations started two years ago as an idea -- a "how do we get to be a part of that?" in the back of a former Birdville band director's mind. A union between the three schools was dreamed up, and an audition tape was sent to Pasadena.

Judges screen dozens of bands vying for a spot in the parade. Just over a year ago, the district received word that it had been selected, and preparations began to send all the band members to California.

The district chipped in for plane tickets and uniform jackets, and parents helped raise money to pay for hotels and a week in Southern California, which included trips to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

Daniel Detrick, the district's fine-arts director, said the experience for the students goes far beyond music.

"They're seeing a tremendous amount of things in California, and it's been a great experience for them," Detrick said. "This leads to them wanting to go other places."