THOUSAND OAKS — Patience has finally paid off for the Thousand Oaks High School marching band--in a very big way.
The band and its color-guard unit were chosen to march in the 110th Annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, ending eight years of rejected applications.
"Actually, we'd finally given up, so this came as a great surprise," band director Bill Hoehne said Monday. "It's really one of the greatest distinctions a band can achieve."
The 190-member Lancer band is one of 15 selected to walk the famed Colorado Boulevard parade route.
It is the first time since at least 1966 a Ventura County band has won the honor, according to one local band director.
"The Thousand Oaks band is a great band," said Bruce Colell of Camarillo High School, who moved to the county in that year. "They deserve it."
One high school is selected from Southern California and one from Northern California each year to represent the state, said Tournament of Roses spokeswoman Caryn Eaves-Person.
The other California entry has not yet been named, Eaves-Person said. Among the other bands chosen to march are Tempe High from Arizona, Bozeman High from Montana, Blue Springs High from Missouri, Punahou High from Honolulu and Science Hill High from Johnson City, Tenn.
For young musicians in a high school band, the Rose Parade represents the pinnacle of public performance, students said Monday.
"It's really cool because people all over the world will see you," said freshman flutist Alyson Lees, 14.
"Stephanie Edwards will, like, talk about us," said Alyson, referring to the well-known KTLA-Channel 5 Rose Parade anchor.
"It's absolutely amazing," said 14-year-old freshman Tiffany Dean, who plays the trombone. "It's a huge challenge, but we're up for it."
Gareth Friedlander, a 16-year-old junior who plays the bass drum, said he's watched the parade every year since he was a kid.
"I think this is pretty cool," Gareth said. "It's going to be a long parade route, but I think I'll be able to do it."
Although the invitation is extended to next year's band, members of the current ensemble also are eligible to participate. That means Thousand Oaks High School officials are now facing the prospect of coordinating travel plans for seniors who will have graduated from the school more than six months before the parade.
"We haven't even begun to work on that yet," Hoehne said.
Principal Jo-Ann Yoos said the good news arrived Friday--and it was a shock.
"You could hear a pin drop after the students were told they were in the Rose Parade," said Yoos, who followed Tournament of Roses officials into the band room for the announcement. "These kids have worked so hard, and it's nice to see their dedication is being recognized."