Rose Parade band trains, sleeps over at San Gabriel

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While San Gabriel closed its doors for winter break, the Santa Clara Vanguard, a world-class drum corps and colorguard, used the school’s large campus as a training ground and temporary residence in preparation for their performance at the 128th Annual Rose Parade in Pasadena.

The six-time Drum Corps International World Champions ended up at San Gabriel after a disastrous course of events in the weeks prior to the parade which left them with no location to practice or sleep. According to Denise Jaramillo, assistant superintendent of Business Services of the Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD), the Tournament of Roses reached out to the District to arrange accommodations for the band.

“The Tournament of Roses had done us a favor when the AUSD band played in the parade in 2009, so we returned the favor,” Jaramillo said.

The Vanguard’s presence even attracted a few visitors interested in seeing them practice, including San Gabriel alumnus Clint Menk, a member of AUSD’s 2009 Rose Parade band.

“I was drawn to the group by their sound, which I heard loud and clear from the South Parking Lot,” Menk said. “It reminded me of the time eight years prior when my peers and I spent winter break rehearsing for the Rose Parade and sleeping over at the gym as well.”

The band and colorguard, consisting of 241 members that made the trip to San Gabriel, were present on campus from Dec. 28 to Jan. 1, putting in crucial rehearsal hours before their performance on Jan. 2. The band slept in the Matador Arena and showered in the boys locker room while their advisers slept in MS-4. They also had a food truck ready to serve the hundreds of high school and college performers.

In their performance, the unit made Rose Parade history, becoming the first marching band and colorguard to both open and close the parade, headlining the 19 bands that performed that day. During the parade, the band performed classic and modern hits, ranging from “God Bless America”  to “Uptown Funk” before closing out the festivities with a rendition of “America The Beautiful.”

The Vanguard left San Gabriel the night prior to the parade to prepare at a local Pasadena high school. They will return to Pasadena this July as part of their summer tour before taking part in the World Championships in August.

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