Prepping for Rose Parade, LAUSD marching band shrugs off rain to practice

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More than 300 L.A. Unified students in the district’s All City Honor Marching Band will join bands from across the country in performing at the Rose Parade on New Year's Day.

The band was created 44 years ago and has been part of the Rose Parade every year since. The parade was actually one of the reasons the band was established — to make sure local high schoolers could regularly be part of the nationally televised event.

To build up endurance for the 5.5-mile parade route, the band trains by doing laps outside Dodger Stadium.

"Dodger Stadium is like perfect terrain for it because the hills give us more stamina," said drum major Alyssa Langford.

At a rehearsal there last week, it rained for hours. Band director Tony White said the rain is a good life lesson.

"It’s about dedication and commitment and, you know, life is not always gonna be sunny,"  said White, who has been involved with the band for 31 years and started as a student member.

The band, which is all brass and percussion, currently has 360 members from 50 schools across the district. Brass players are recommended by teachers at their schools and percussionists and drum majors must audition.

Yordy Flores is playing his 35-pound sousaphone in the parade for the first time this year. He said after the first day lugging his instrument down the hilly terrain at the stadium, he was very tired. But it was better on day two.

"It’s hard but when you get the hang of it, it’s gonna be easy," said Flores.

Chudi Mbanefo is one of five drum majors in the band. This year, he's a senior so it’s his last year marching in the parade.

"It'll be cool to, like, celebrate New Year's and all, but there’s nothing better than just waking up and being around 300 kids freezing at 3 in the morning," he said. "I’m definitely going to miss it."

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