Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 2, 2006

Lowndes High band marches in nationally televised parade

PASADENA, Calif. — The rain that made California roads wet Monday morning did not dampen the spirits of more than 300 Lowndes High School Georgia Bridgemen as they performed for the first time as part of the prestigious Tournament of Roses Parade.

The seven-mile trek began with a special performance for NBC, an opportunity provided by Libby Wright, president of the Tournament of Roses. When the network decided to lead with several minutes of coverage of the band of her choice, Wright chose the Bridgemen, claiming they had made a great impression during her tour of the area during Winnersville weekend.

After the kickoff performance, the band quickly traveled on foot to its original 65th position in the parade.

“It was something that had never been done in the history of the Tournament of Roses parade,” said Charles Todd, band director, adding that the transition from first back to 65th was smooth. “It was very well planned.”

For the first time in 51 years, rain poured over the organic floats, bands and equestrian units, but did not affect the kids’ excitement. Rain gear, allowed due to stormy weather, prevented damage to uniforms as the band marched for three hours and

5.5 miles through Pasadena, Calif., performing a medley of songs by Carlos Santana.

“It was an incredible experience,” Todd said, his voice full enthusiasm. “The people here are so warm and accepting. It was their support that gave our kids confidence and stamina throughout the parade.”

He explained how the crowd cheered and shouted words of encouragement, including “Go Georgia” to the Bridgemen. He lead the band throughout the parade along with five assistant directors, Robert Maynard, Richard Mclendon, Phil Mika, Debbie Bradley and Alan Drew.

The experience may have culminated Monday, but it began during the summer with conditioning and power walks. The first walks were for just one to two miles, progressing to five miles or longer. October brought more practices incorporating music.

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