Unforgettable. Magical. Honored. Those were just some of the words used by West Harrison High band members to describe their first appearance in the 131st Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
“The Pride of South Mississippi” made history by representing Harrison County School District, South Mississippi, and the state of Mississippi in this prestigious event on January 1, 2020. The last Mississippi band to perform on this iconic stage was 30 years ago.
“It was awesome!” said West Harrison High Senior Jacob Raymond.
The 185 band members have been practicing, preparing, and fundraising for this once-in-a-lifetime trip since summer of 2019. All the long hours and hard work definitely paid off.
“It was magical, walking down and seeing all the smiling faces of the kids and being able to wave and knowing we are making an impact on them,” said West Harrison High Junior Rachel Weaver.
Flute and piccolo player Alexia Manganti said, “Seeing all the people’s reactions when we came down and there were people that had signs that said: This is my 43rd Rose Parade. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy!’
Over 32 million people from all over the world watched the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. Several band members recalled it was exhausting at times as they marched five miles along the parade route, but they felt a lot of energy from the crowd.
“Being able to do the entire thing, marching it, seeing all the people, and the whole experience overall was really nice,” said West Harrison High Junior Kristofer “Liam” Lanmon.
The band members also felt a lot of pride knowing they performed their hearts out for their school, school district, and the state of Mississippi.
“It feels great to know we had such a great impact,” said Kristofer.
“The experience our group had at the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade was first-class all the way. Tournament President, Laura Farber and committee members all made us feel very welcome,” said West Harrison High Band Director Timothy Garrett.
For many band members at West Harrison, this was their second time performing on a big national stage. In November of 2017, they traveled to New York City to participate in another popular holiday tradition, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Alexia said: “It’s such an honor to do Macy’s two years ago, but now this. It’s really an honor.”
“The performance experience was unlike any other, and will be unforgettable. To be only the second band in Mississippi history to do both Macy’s and the Tournament of Roses Parade, it makes our experience even more incredible. These are memories our students will cherish for a lifetime. We are very grateful to everyone involved who ensured our students, staff, and parents had an outstanding experience!” Garrett said.
The theme of this year’s Rose Parade was “The Power of Hope”. The West Harrison High Hurricane Band serves as a reminder that there is ‘hope’ after devastation. West Harrison High was built from FEMA grant money after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi Coast in 2005. Being invited to perform in the Rose Parade allowed West Harrison band members to share their message of ‘hope’ with the rest of the world.
“It’s wonderful!” said Rachel.
While in California, the band also participated in a band showcase and performed for the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House.
You can watch Marching.com’s video of the WHHS Band Rose Bowl performance here: https://www.facebook.com/MarchingDotCom/videos/2597398430495310/
You can watch the WLOX story here: https://www.wlox.com/2020/01/01/watch-live-west-harrison-high-band-performs-tournament-roses-parade/
You can watch the WXXV story here: https://www.wxxv25.com/2020/01/01/west-harrison-plays-rose-parade/
You can watch the WLOX story here: https://www.wlox.com/2020/01/07/west-harrison-marching-band-students-reflect-memorable-rose-parade/
You can watch the WXXV story here: https://www.wxxv25.com/2020/01/06/west-harrison-band-members-reflect-rose-parade/
You can watch the YouTube video of the WHHS Band performing at the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAbQg5SNwpI
You can watch the YouTube video of the WHHS Band in the Rose Parade here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_-wWSkNp7s
Public Relations Specialist
Harrison County School District
(228) 539-6500 (Office)
(228) 236-6863 (Cell)