The Vista Ridge High School marching band has been selected to perform in the 2023 Rose Parade, held in Pasadena, Calif. They are one of 19 bands – including high school, college and military bands – participating in this year’s parade, themed “Turning the Corner.”

Bands are selected according to a variety of factors, including “musicianship, marching ability, uniqueness, entertainment value or special interest,” according to the Rose Parade website. But although there is an extensive and competitive application process for bands hoping to participate, the Vista Ridge marching band was invited to play in the parade during the Bands of America Grand National Championships, according to Vista Ridge Marching Band Director Bryan Christian.

“We are the only band participating in the 2023 parade that did not go through the application process. We were simply invited,” Christian said. “Of course, there has been a lot of catching up on the planning and logistical side of things, but we are all so very excited to be performing in such an amazing event.”

The VRHS marching band has been learning new pieces specifically written and arranged for their Rose Parade performance. The band will play “On the Road Again,” by Austin native Willie Nelson, as well as “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush, the 1985 song recently repopularized on the show “Stranger Things.” The band will also perform “Turn, Turn, Turn,” a song written by Pete Seeger and made famous by the Byrds in 1965; the name of the piece is also a salute to the theme of this year’s parade.

In addition to the challenges of learning music and practicing formations, the parade route is 5.5 miles long – a distance that requires the band members to build stamina in preparation.

“We’ve had to run two or more laps every day of summer band camp. It’s been so hard,” Ari Shadhuka, VRHS senior and color guard member, said. “But I’m just so excited about this being my last year of band and being able to go to the Rose Parade, especially not having applied, but just getting invited in. It’s such a big deal.”

Despite the huge commitment of time and energy, VRHS band members are enthusiastic about not only the parade itself, but also the process of getting ready over the next several months.

“I think the biggest challenge for us as a band is to be on the same page and work together as a unit,” Natalie Eddings, VRHS junior and clarinet player, said. “But I think we all have enough spirit. I’m excited for the final product, but I’m very excited for the journey to get there.”

Although the parade is typically held on New Year’s Day, this coming Rose Parade will take place Jan. 2, 2023. This is in accordance with Pasadena’s “Never on Sunday” tradition which began in 1893, the first year the Rose Parade fell on a Sunday.