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Marching Band Aims to Be in Full Flower for Rose Parade

VENTURA COUNTY NEWS | THOUSAND OAKS

December 31, 1998|MICHAEL GOTTLIEB

It sounds like a storm, one you can hear coming from almost a mile away.

It's the Thousand Oaks High School Lancer Band and Color Guard, preparing for its biggest performance ever,at Friday's Rose Parade in Pasadena.

For the last two weeks, the group--with 190 band and 50 color guard members--has been fine-tuning for its New Year's Day appearance by marching on Rancho Conejo Boulevard, which the city of Thousand Oaks closed off for the practices.

On Monday, one of the band's last rehearsals, it was easy to see and hear why they are considered one of the best marching bands on the West Coast.

After hours of walking up and down a strip four-fifths of a mile long while performing a six-minute routine, the lines were still sharp and in step, marching 120 steps a minute.

Bill Hoehne, band director, has a nearly satisfied look on his face.

"We are going to do a real good job," he said.

Band members have been practicing their turns, particularly the technically challenging, 108-degree right turn planned when they get to Colorado Boulevard, which is the turn scheduled to be televised.

The Thousand Oaks marching band will be among 22 that will appear before an estimated 1 million people at the parade and a worldwide television audience estimated to exceed 400 million.

"The Rose Parade is the single biggest audience you can ever have," Hoehne said.

"We are talking a million live people. It is the biggest feather in your cap."

Hoehne has applied to appear in the Rose Parade for the last nine years.

And after winning every competition it has appeared in, the Thousand Oaks band finally got its invitation.

It will march in the 99th position Friday.

Hoehne said he is most concerned now with the band's endurance.

At 5 1/2 miles, the two-hour Rose Parade will be about twice as long as any event the Thousand Oaks band has appeared in.

Crystal Fisher, a 14-year-old freshman clarinet player, is very nervous.

Besides playing the four songs in the band's routine--including "Rose Drum Cadence"; "Warfare," a school cheer; and "Purple Carnival"--Crystal must maintain the correct spacing from the person in front of her: three 26-inch steps.

"We have a big expectation from our city, our district, our families and our friends.

"We can't let them down, knowing that we are that good and that millions of people are there to watch us," Crystal said.

Linda Swiller, 41, mother of bass trombone player Greg Swiller, has been directing traffic for the band during their practices.

Having watched the parade preparations, she has seen the performances continue to improve.

But she knows that the band will put on its best show Friday morning.

"Once they get there, the adrenaline will kick in," Swiller said.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

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