By Emma Hyer
With immense hard work and dedication, the Pulaski Red Raider Marching Band and Pulaski High School (PHS) Choir have been invited to perform in the 2024 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2024.
The band has performed at this event before, but this time the PHS Choir gets to show its talents alongside them.
The PHS Choir was recommended for the event from its past performances at Carnegie Hall and Disney World.
The band has been preparing since February, organizing rehearsals to practice its music and choreography.
In the months leading up to audition day, the band rehearsed two nights a week, every week, marching in the ever-changing Wisconsin weather.
The band recorded its audition video in the PHS parking lot on May 8 and sent it in on May 15.
The band will have approximately 200 marchers from ninth to 12th grade, and the choir will have performers from eighth to 12th grade.
In the past, the Pulaski Music Boosters have played an enormous part in paying for this trip, however, it is still being determined how the costs will be covered this year.
The date of the parade set for New Year’s Day and the group plans to depart around Dec. 27 of next year.
Marching and singing will not be the only things students will get to experience on this trip.
They plan to perform at BandFest and to explore sunny California in all aspects, such as sight seeing, relaxing on the beach and possibly going to one of the many theme parks the state has to offer, with leading candidates being Disneyland, SeaWorld and Universal Studios.
They will get the opportunity to tour the float barns and get a behind-the-scenes look at various floats appearing in the parade.
Brooke Steeno from the class of 2018 recalls her experience when she performed in the parade.
“Although it has been six years since I marched in the Rose Bowl Parade, I can still recall the goosebumps I felt and have never experienced again since. As a group, we practiced in both the cold Wisconsin weather and California summer heat, but looking back now, our hours of dedication were definitely worth it,” said Steeno.
Class of 2018 Pulaski graduate Jaclyn Willems also has fond memories.
“Playing in the Rose Bowl Parade was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something I will never forget. With all the time, hard work, and dedication that everyone who attends has to put in, it is something to always be proud of,” said Willems.
Band director Thomas Busch said this opportunity would not have been possible if it weren’t for last year’s eighth-grade band class and their director Michelle Henslin.
They learned how to march and attended rehearsals every week.
They practiced throughout the school year and even during the summer during band camp.
Without any marching experience from the beginning, they worked their way up to auditioning for the Rose Bowl.
The band previously performed in Pasadena in 2007, 2012 and most recently in 2017.
The band also performed at Disneyland each of those years while in Southern California.
In addition to the Rose Bowl Parade, the band has performed in many other places and has won many awards for its success including:
• 2022, 2015, 2005 and 2001, Orlando, Fla., with performances and workshops at Disney World.
• 2019, St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.
• 2019, Carnegie Hall performance, New York City.
• 2003, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, in which the PHS marching band was the Midwest representative.
In recent years, the PHS choir has performed with the band on trips to New York and Florida, among others, making it a total Music Department experience and not just band or choir trip.