Members and parents of the Seminole High School marching band load a xylophone and other instruments into a truck trailer on Dec. 22 for the four-day trip to Pasadena, Calif. Band members leave Dec. 27 to march in the 2013 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.
SEMINOLE – The phrase “Oh the Places You’ll Go” fits the Seminole High School band as they prepare to be in the international spotlight in Pasadena, Calif., for a once in a lifetime experience on New Years Day.
The band has garnered national attention within years as a competitive marching band for Pinellas County and the state of Florida. It’s been eight years and it seems like déjà vu to many Seminole band alumni, as they will watch a new class of students share in a parade honor.
They will now be back in the spotlight on Jan. 1 during the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. This will be the second time the band has appeared in the internationally televised event. Overall, this will be the fourth nationally televised parade that the band has participated in.
Back in 2005, the SHS band became the first from Pinellas County and the state of Florida to attend. For band director Daniel Wood and staff, it feels like only yesterday getting that very first announcement from then principal Rick Misenti on Oct. 16, 2003 in the Seminole High School stadium, while finishing practice on the their field show, “Off Center.”
Matt Boeggeman, the 2005 drum major was a junior at the time in 2003 and said that was a night he has not forgotten, even after eight years.
“I had no idea what was going on, laughed Boeggeman looking back on that night.
“I mean there was someone in the saxophone section that had the lowdown and rumors started to spread within the 10 seconds we ended to the time we went up to the podium. I heard rumors but I really didn’t know what it was for,” he said.
And once the announcement was made, he said he couldn’t wait for what would come next.
“I was excited. It was really exciting to be able to do something that was different and on a national scale from what we typically did. It was a lot of pride in that moment. It was an honor,” he said.
For the 2011 season, the Seminole band was improving on their field show “Restricted Access” when parents of the students began to fill the high school stadium stands.
Once practice ended, the students gathered around the podium. This time it was Principal Walter Weller that made the announcement the night of Sept. 29, 2011 as the band was preparing for the Seminole Sound Spectacular.
Sarah Michaels, the drum major of the 2012 and 2013 bands experienced a similar reaction.
“I was like, oh my gosh, we are going to California,” said Michaels. “I then began to realize, however, how much work that we are going to have to put into it. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be going to another nationally televised parade that everyone in America watches. I was a little stunned and definitely in awe.”
Before the announcement for the 2013 parade, the band continued to be in the national spotlight. On Nov 30, 2008, it performed for Disney fans and parents at the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade. Seminole was the only band in the parade and won the honor over 10 other high school bands. It was a pre-taped event that was viewed on Christmas Day.
Right after the Disney Parade, Wood wanted to apply for the dream parade that he had not been able to get yet. Like the Rose Parade being the “grand-daddy of all parades” he wanted the parade that ushered in the holiday season.
The announcement came in the summer of 2008 during the final days of band camp when an acceptance letter congratulated them on being selected to march in the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City.
For nearly 18 months, the band fundraised from car washes, Rays game concessions, and even a cow pattie bingo at the Seminole Education Vocational Center. The band’s biggest cash contributions came from a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh grant, a $20,000 grant from Chase Bank and a $15,000 donation from the Treasure Island Fun Center.
Over the past eight years, the Warhawk band has raised significant amounts of money to participate in such prestigious events. In 2005, the band needed to raise $350,000 for over 180 students to go. That’s about $1,500 per student.
In 2011 for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the band raised $275,000 for 160 students; totaling to $1,680 dollars per student. Now in 2012, while facing a bad economy, the Warhawks raised $300,000 for 130 students to participate; making the grand total for each student being around $1,970.
After getting back from Macy’s Parade, Wood once again received the application from Tournament of Roses Committee in February, but did not respond to it immediately. He mailed the application in and six months later found out the band had been selected again to march in the parade.
The selection process for the 2013 parade had 455 band applications sent in from all over the world. When Sally Bixby, the president of the Tournament of Roses visited the band during its Mutts and Music festival in Seminole City Park on Sept. 29, she stated that bands are selected by a music committee that makes the first cut as far as which bands they recommend to the president and their spouse.
“We pick our bands based on musicianship, uniqueness, showmanship, entertainment value, and how they look going down the parade route,” said Bixby. “But what I think makes Seminole stand out is the people. They are very friendly, so supportive, and the students are wonderful. The community is very engaging, courteous, enthusiastic and excited about them going to the Rose Parade.”
For both years, once the announcement was made, they had 13 months to start fundraising leading up to when they would board the planes. Both years would face difficulty; one with the wrath of Mother Nature and the other with the sign of financial times.
Some of the 2005 band’s donations came to a screeching halt during the summer of 2004 when Hurricanes Charley, Francis, Ivan and Jeanne, hit the Florida coast. Many of the band’s big name sponsors had to pull out due to hurricane relief. While in 2012, the band experienced fundraising difficulties in a tough economy.
Almost immediately, the 2013 band’s different fundraising ideas were put to the test including work at the Tampa Bay Rays concession stands, car washes, performances at local events and holding spirit nights at Seminole restaurants.
The basketball community soon noticed their cause when the Harlem Globetrotters alumni put on a charity basketball game at the SPC Gibbs campus gymnasium.
One of the biggest fundraiser successes came in the form of a new car when former band member and Mini Cooper enthusiast Jack Rowland, suggested that the band do a $25 raffle for a brand new 2012 Mini Cooper Baker Street Limited Edition. When the winning raffle was drawn at the 2012 Seminole Sound Spectacular, the winner, Dale Miller, decided not to take the car and band was picked up $27,381 from the effort.
As the days to their main competitive marching band season came to an end, they realized that the season itself was not over yet. In 2005, Boeggeman was happy to see the season extended a little longer.
“Although the marching season was over and I was very tired, mentally and physically, and very exhausted, I was always sad to see a it come to an end,” said Boeggeman. “But when the Rose Parade happened, I was excited to continue the season throughout the remainder of the year and keep a glimmer of the show alive.”
According to Drum Major Sarah Michaels, the preparation for the Rose Parade is long and tedious. Much like 2005, they didn’t just have to deal with learning to play the parade music and remember their field show, they had to have the endurance to make it down a long, parade route, plus try and keep the horn and play.
The parade route is 5 1/2 miles long with a famous 110-degree turn that leads onto Colorado Boulevard. Boeggeman said one of the most memorable things that he can remember from the earlier Rose Parade was making that turn. He said it was at that moment, Seminole was no longer famous in Florida, but around the world.
“There was a lot of people especially considering the parades that we had been used to,” said Boeggeman. “The thing that was very different was the bleachers on the side of the street where the people were sitting and cheering. Plus all the news cameras perched above.”
He also remembers seeing the hometown spirit with many band parents, chaperones and their families who were sitting and waiting.
“There was a group of parents that were posted in bleachers along the parade route and had told the instructors where they would be. As we approached, the whole group just went nuts. As we went past, all of the drum majors turned around, marched forward and saluted the crowd as the band was playing.”
Both band years also faced finding the correct leadership to guide the band onto a national stage. In 2005, along with Boeggeman was Drum Major Collin Kosthia and returning senior Drum Major Nic Fisher. According to Michaels, for the 2012 parade they needed someone who was ready for the position and who would not be stressed out about it.
“I wanted someone who was confident and didn’t have their head in the clouds,” said Michaels. Matt (Durst), was able to show that. He showed a huge improvement in maturity and was able to lead well last year in a top leadership position.”
Many different memories remain with Boeggeman when he was out the. He was able to share this once in a lifetime marching experience with his younger brother. Michael, who was in seventh grade, joined his brother on the parade route in the Warhawk uniform. He later became drum major during the 2009 marching band season.
“It was really special to have him out there,” said Boeggeman. “It’s something that having then just as far apart as we were in age, we would never get the chance to march together in high school. It was special for both of us to have that time and go through that entire experience. Its something that we both got the chance to do.”
Michaels will also have a sibling march in the parade. Her brother Riley will make his second appearance in nationally televised parade, having marched with Sarah in the Macy’s Parade in 2010.
“For me and him it becomes more of a family event because you are able to share the experience and talk the different events,” said Michaels. “We both have different stories to tell from Macy’s and I’m sure it with be the same for the Rose Parade.”
The band will be departing early Friday, Dec. 27 on three separate flights heading to California. A part from visiting Santa Monica Pier and Hollywood, they will have two other performances before they make their trip down Colorado Boulevard. They will perform in Disneyland along Main Street Blvd in the Magic Kingdom on Dec. 28.
On Sunday, Dec. 30, they will perform at BandFest at the Pasadena Community College stadium. BandFest doesn’t just showcase the bands; it will showcase their music and field show talents. They will perform their 2012 field show “Off Edge” along with their parade music “Anyway you want it” by Journey and Disney music selections from “Fantasmic,” “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “It’s a Small World.”
“Bandfest was a moment to show who we were,” said Boeggeman. “We weren’t a band that could just walk down a road in a straight line and play a song. We were much more than that. We got mud all over our white pants and the band moms had to figure out how to get our pants clean 24 hours before the parade.”
This year’s Rose Parade theme is “Oh the Places You’ll Go” with Dr. Jane Goodall as the grand marshal. The parade will feature 41 floats, 24 marching bands and 21 equestrian units. The assembled bands, horse units, and floats will take approximately two hours to pass by.
The Warhawk band is the 87th unit in the parade and the 23rd band.