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Tournament of Roses Parade comes into focus for Greendale High School band

Posted at 5:20 AM, Oct 18, 2019

GREENDALE — The Greendale High School Marching Band has known for a long time it was invited to the 2020 Tournament of Roses. Now it’s getting real.

Laura Farber, president and chairman of the board, and her husband Tomas Lopez were in town this month to visit the community and present the band with its banner for the 131st Rose Parade in Pasadena.

In an event steeped in tradition, Farber believes the banner presentation is an important one. “That's something that we do when we visit. It kind of marks the formality,” she said. “You've been invited, but now you've been officially invited.”

Formalities aside, Farber said the personal visits are valuable for the communities represented in the parade — and for the Tournament of Roses. “The most important reason we do this is we want to meet the students. We want to have a connection with them. We always ask when the visits are being planned to please carve out time we can sit down with them, we can speak with them.”

Farber and Lopez did just that prior to the banner presentation last week. A select number of leaders in the band were invited to a special lunch.

Farber unveiled the theme for this year’s event, “The Power of Hope.” She also let the band members know they’re among elite company, having risen to the top of more than 100 applications. “There was a threshold,” she said. “If the bands don't meet that threshold, they won't even be considered. We had a lot of amazing talent to choose from, but Greendale stood out.”

Aside from being a great band, Farber said the school’s “no cut” policy for its band had an impact on its application. “What impressed us,” Farber said, “and one of the reasons it was selected among its talent and musicianship is everyone that wants to be in this band gets to be in this band. There are no auditions. That is unheard of, and that is so special.” Additionally, the band works closely with sports and other extracurriculars so that students don’t have to choose between them.

Tom Reifenberg, director of bands for Greendale High, knows that’s one of the reasons he’s able to get more than 20% of the student body in the band. “Very few of our kids are solely band kids,” he said. “They're the varsity football players. They’re cheerleaders. They’re theater kids. They're in everything, which is kind of cool about a school our size.”

Reifenberg thinks the personal visit helped bring the event into focus for his students. “What's really cool about it, the students don't quite understand. They've seen it on TV, but they don't quite grasp the gravity and the enormity of what they're going to be doing.”

What impressed us, and one of the reasons it was selected among its talent and musicianship, is everyone that wants to be in this band gets to be in this band. " — Laura Farber, president and chairman of the board for the Tournament of Roses

Enormity. Figuratively and literally. Thirty-five million television viewers around the world. A parade route jammed with 800,000 people, and 5.5 miles long. “To put it in perspective for them, it's kind of from Greendale High School to the airport, Reifenberg illustrated. Enormity in expense as well. Students have been fundraising for more than a year to support the travel costs. They’re still working on it. “We’ll take every penny we can get,” Reifenberg chuckled.

Want to help? For fundraising and sponsorship information, as well as the band’s full schedule, click here.