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Sunshine, parade arrive at last for Seminole band

After five days of stormy California weather, members of the Seminole High School Marching Band are keeping their fingers crossed that the sun will come out today for the 116th Tournament of Roses parade.

Rain has followed the students since they arrived in San Francisco on Monday, putting a damper on their tour of "the other bay area," Disneyland and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Wet roads caused a minor accident Tuesday night, affecting two of their buses. Overcast skies threatened an exhibition performance Thursday.

The 172-member band is scheduled to head north on Orange Grove Boulevard at 11 this morning regardless of the weather, said band director Dan "Chip" Wood. Eighth in a lineup that includes 50 floats, 26 equestrian units and 17 high school bands, the students should appear on camera within the first 30 minutes of the broadcast.

Wood received instructions to rouse band members at 3:30 this morning and have them ready to depart the hotel for the prestaging area an hour later, rain or shine.

"All they're allowed to have with them is what they'll be carrying in the parade," Wood said. "If it's cold, they'll give the kids plastic trash bags to cover themselves to stay warm."

The makeshift ponchos also will keep the students dry in case of rain, Wood said. They must remove the bags before making a 105-degree turn east onto Colorado Boulevard, a maneuver that will put them in front of television cameras that will broadcast the parade to 300-million viewers worldwide.

The band will perform music written specifically for the event in a continuous loop throughout the two-hour parade. The students drilled to ensure their stamina along the 5{-mile route.

More than 900 Tournament of Roses volunteers will be there to help, said Cathy Hakes, Seminole band booster vice president.

"The kids don't even know what 5{ miles feels like," she said. "We think adrenaline will keep them moving."

The band practiced for two hours Thursday at a Pasadena high school before appearing in Bandfest, a field show at Pasadena City College. Tournament of Roses officials treated them to lunch, then took them for a behind-the-scenes tour of the float viewing area.

The students slept in until 8 a.m. Friday, then practiced for an hour at a nearby parking garage while rain pounded the roof.

"We have definitely had more moisture than California usually has at this time of the year," said Bill Flinn, chief operation officer for the Tournament of Roses Association. "But we have every indication that the storm should be passing through the Pasadena and Los Angeles area (Friday) afternoon."

The Rose Parade has been hit with rain only nine times in its 115-year history, Flinn said. It hasn't rained on a parade since 1955.

The band's journey to the Rose Parade began in September 2003 when Wood learned his students had been selected from among 180 high school bands. A fundraising campaign spearheaded by the school's band boosters netted a little more than $100,000 for the $350,000 trip. Band parents chipped in the rest.

More than 200 members of the Seminole High community traveled to California to support the band. That fit in well with this year's parade theme, "Celebrating Family," Wood said.

"It's a great experience for me to march with my kids down the street," he said. "It's a big accomplishment for the program."

WHERE TO WATCH

The 116th Tournament of Roses parade will be televised at 11 a.m. on ABC, NBC, CBS, Univision, HGTV, Telemundo, the Travel Channel and Discovery HD. The Seminole High band likely will appear within the broadcast's first 30 minutes.

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