Wherever Tournament of Roses President Scott Jenkins shows up in his trademark red blazer, fanfare usually follows.
Last weekend Jenkins visited Minnesota to officially invite the Rosemount High School marching band to perform in the Rose Parade. The band will be the first from Minnesota in seven years to play in the parade, which will be on Jan. 1, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif.
As the representative of one of the nation’s biggest parades, Jenkins has the job of visiting the hometowns of the 12 high school bands selected to perform.
“It’s a lot of fun to learn about each of these communities, understanding how the high schools fit into the community, and getting to know the bands and their directors,” said Jenkins.
The weekend included a pep rally at the high school, a tour of Rosemount, a meeting with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and a visit to local nonprofit Feed My Starving Children.
On Saturday night at TCF Bank Stadium, Jenkins presented the Tournament of Roses flag to the 205-member band and officially invited them to perform.
Steve Olsen, band co-director, said the invitation is a huge honor.
“It’s the Super Bowl for marching bands,” Olsen said. “Only the best of the best get invited. It’s a big deal.”
About 100 bands apply to participate annually. The application process takes two years and involves submitting a written application, video performances and letters of recommendation, said Olsen.
Selection is based on “musical talent, showmanship, marching ability and other entertainment factors,” Jenkins said. The selection committee was impressed with the amount of experience Rosemount’s three band directors had, Jenkins said, and the awards the band has won recently.
The band has earned a national presence in the past five years, Olsen said, and won the state championship for seven consecutive years. They also do well at the “Bands of America” super regional championships.
Fundraising is key
While Jenkins was here, the goal was to not only show him Rosemount but Minnesota as well, said Stephanie Abraham, a parent who chaired the visit committee.
The visits have another purpose, too. “The real point in me coming to their community is to create greater awareness and publicity,” which can help schools that need fundraising assistance, Jenkins said.
The Pasadina trip will cost more than $1,500 per member, Olsen said, and he wants everyone to be able to go. He estimates that the fundraising is one-third complete.
Fundraising efforts have been underway since spring, when a “March-a-Thon” raised $20,000. Other projects are ongoing or planned for fall.
During Jenkins’ visit, Thomson Reuters, the employer of several students’ parents, gave the band $10,000.
Excellence pays off
This year will mark the 100th Rose Bowl football game, and the 125th year of the Rose Parade. The parade will feature 50 flower-covered floats, 20 bands and 15 horse units. About 800,000 spectators watch it in person.
Abraham, whose daughter Erin is a percussionist, said attending the parade has been on her “bucket list” since her kids were little, so she’s planning on going.
George Tangen, a junior drum major, said he’s “ecstatic beyond belief” about the trip.
“For me, it’s like all of our striving for excellence has paid off,” he said.
With summer practice starting this week, Olsen, along with co-directors Bo Hoover and Leon Sieve, has begun directing students in the show they will perform in the parade, called “aRose.”
The eight- to nine-minute routine — which plays on Rosemount’s name, the Rose Parade, and the past tense of “arise” — includes several rose-themed songs.
“The feedback that we get … is that the shows we put together have a lot of audience appeal,” he said. “We tend to have shows that excite people, inspire people, make them feel good.”
Similarly, their Rose Parade show aims to be uplifting, he said.
Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste attended the pep rally on Friday, giving Jenkins a key to the city.
“It will be the first key to the city, so hopefully it works,” he joked.
Droste said the invitation is a testament to the students’ hard work and the quality of the band’s directors.
“To reach that high of a level for a high school marching band and then to do it consistently… it’s really a positive influence on the community and their families,” Droste said.