A Rosy Start to the New Year

To kick off the New Year, Junior Chase Thomas had the opportunity to perform with the BOA Honor Band at the Rose Parade. With thousands of attendees and millions of television viewers, Thomas set the stage for a performance to remember.


Starting off the New Year with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, junior Chase Thomas participated in the Rose Parade as part of the BOA Honor Band, or Bands of America Honor Band. They marched as an ensemble that represented 40 different states and had over 320 members including both high school and underclassmen college students. 


“It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before,” Thomas said. “The group was full of the best players in the nation and it was also three times the size of the Lancer Band.”


An American New Year’s Day tradition beginning in 1890, the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California has become a national spectacle. While crowds of 800,000 have been common in past years, both attendees and participants were limited this year due to the recent surge of COVID-19. 


“I feel like my time there was very well spent,” Thomas said. “In the parade itself the best part was going around what they called ‘TV corner’ where there were not only thousands of people in huge grand stands but also massive cameras and cranes everywhere.”


Thomas heard about the opportunity through his private instructor, who sent him information regarding the event in February of last year. After recording and submitting his audition in March, he received an acceptance letter from BOA in early April to ensure enough time for rehearsals.


“Before the event we had monthly Zoom meetings with three Zooms in December. We arrived in Long Beach on the 27th and had multiple daily rehearsals until Friday night,” Thomas said. “The musical ensemble rehearsals were typically my favorite since it was great to hear the whole group.”


While the Rose Parade was the main event, the BOA Honor Band also performed on two separate occasions prior to the parade: One in Anaheim and one at Disneyland.


“Starting by playing at the parent performance in front of 500 people was already one of the most stressful things I’d ever experienced,” Thomas said. “Then moving onto Disneyland in front of 1500 was my favorite performance.”


Leading up to New Year’s Day, the group practiced in their hotel in Long Beach, Costa Mesa High School, and Colony High School. The feedback from professionals proved to be in invaluable; The students practiced marching technique with Jeff Young, held full ensemble musical rehearsals with 

Richard Saucedo, and had Trombone and Baritone sectional rehearsals with Cheryl Lee.


“None of the music was particularly hard for me,” Thomas said. “However, working with the members and staff that week without a doubt made me a much better musician.”


Not only did Thomas perform in front of the thousands of people lining the streets, but the television broadcast garnered nearly 40 million viewers nationwide.

“I saw a couple of cool videos of me afterward and I was really happy to be able to see myself,” Thomas said. “[Getting] to play the solo 4 times for thousands of people to hear each time was an incredible feeling.”