The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of the Hollywood Christmas Parade, will not reconsider its decision to bar the Hollywood High School band from the Nov. 30 parade.
The band has not been allowed to march in the parade for three years because membership fell below the 100-musician level established by the sponsor. There were nine members in the band last year and no more than 30 this year.
Bill Welsh, president of the chamber, said the organization will not allow Hollywood High to participate until its ranks grow.
"Without 100 members," Welsh said, "a band does not look like a band or sound like a band. We simply have to stand by our minimum standards to maintain the excellence of the parade."
Michael Kellerman, a Hollywood businessman and a former member of the chamber's board of directors, led the drive to reestablish the Hollywood High School band as the lead unit in the parade, which has been held since 1932.
"There is something inherently wrong in not allowing the one band in the community to participate in the parade," Kellerman said. "To me and many other business people in Hollywood, the band's exclusion is a put-down of a school that needs all the support it can get."
Kellerman's efforts drew mixed reactions at Hollywood High. Principal Willard B. Hansen said he has no problems with the band's exclusion although music teacher Sid D. Knowlton would like to see the band participate.
"Parade sponsors want a big band and we do not have one," Hansen said. "While the band is improving under Mr. Knowlton's guidance, it is not ready to take part in the parade."
Hansen said he is more concerned about the education of the school's approximately 2,100 students. "My priorities are to teach the students to read and write," he said.
Knowlton, who came to Hollywood High School last year from Wilson High School, said he is not blaming anyone for the decline of the Hollywood High band, nor does he disagree with his principal.
"The fact is that the band is not as bad as it was before I got here," he said. "We have improved to the point where we would not embarrass ourselves or the high school by marching in the parade.
"Obviously, we are not as good as a 100-piece band, but we can play more modest tunes well, songs that do not require five or six French horns."
Knowlton said the number of students participating in the band would increase sharply if they knew that the band was going to participate in the parade, which is telecast nationwide and in several foreign countries.
"Whether we march in the parade or not is not going to diminish our efforts to improve the band," Knowlton said. "We are in the process of improving the band's uniforms and we are working hard teaching students to play the instruments. The point is that the process of improvement would be accelerated by participation in the parade."
Saved From Oblivion
Chamber President Welsh said elimination of the Hollywood High band was one of several steps taken to save the parade from oblivion.
"Early this decade," Welsh said, "the parade was not going well. We brought in new people to reorganize and improve it. One of their recommendations was the elimination of small groups, which included the Hollywood High band."
Welsh said it is not impossible for small communities to come up with a terrific band, noting that Parker, Colo., is sending a 190-piece band to the parade.
"Let me tell you," he said, "there weren't more than 200 people living in the town of Parker when I was a newscaster there in the 1940s. Hollywood High, with more than 2,000 students, should be able to do as well or there is something awfully wrong."