Tournament of Roses Parade


On New Year’s Day 1971, the Englewood, Colorado high school marching band performed in the Tournament of Roses Parade. I think it’s no exaggeration to say I was third chair sousaphone (marching tuba). The band, 180 of us, boarded several Continental Trailways buses bound for Los Angeles. We drove all night and arrived at the UCLA dorms the next afternoon, our new home away from home. We only had a handful of chaperones for 180 teenagers, and as you can imagine, the hijinks were legendary. It all came to a head when they found a stowaway on one of the buses, a high school girl who just wanted to see sunny California. Our band director, Dr. J.L. Gerardi, had had more than enough. And we all knew it.

One evening, several upper classmates dreamed up a plan. With a lot of sneaking around and whispers, we grabbed our instruments and, by the cover of darkness, amassed on the lawn under Dr. Gerardi’s second-floor window. Our drum major, Randy Bachman, called us to attention with a blast of his whistle, and we broke into “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” In moments Dr. Gerardi appeared at the window. We heard he had tears in his eyes. We performed in the Disneyland parade and appeared on national television during the five-mile-long Rose Parade. But my best memory of the trip was that secretive, impromptu performance of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”