Adding to a long list of accolades, the Westfield Marching Band has won a coveted slot in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., the first Fairfax County band to be selected in the 125-year history of the parade.
“It’s a real credit to all the hard work that the kids put into the program,” said Stephen Panoff, band director, “It’s also testimony to our diversity. We have students from 13 different cultures in the band and everybody just works together really well.
“That’s not true with adults,” Panoff said. “We don’t always play nice together in the sandbox.”
The Westfield band captured one of 12 slots in the parade out of about 125 applicants. Another 30 prospective applicants were unable to finish the lengthy application form, which fills a thick three-ring binder in Panoff’s office and includes a CD with a video of the 225-member band. Of the schools that do win, they often have to apply three to four times before receiving a parade invitation, Panoff said.
This was Westfield’s first application for a spot in the parade, he said.
“Yeah, I was surprised we got it,” said Panoff, who has been the school’s band director for the past seven years. “It really says a lot about the program.”
Success is nothing new to the band.
Last year, the Westfield High School band received across-the-board superior ratings when it performed at the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association state marching assessment. And, the band took first place in open division and second place overall at the Powhatan Fall Classic and second place overall in the USBBA Northern Virginia Showcase.
The New Year’s Day Rose Parade, which features marching bands and massive motorized floats covered with live flowers, is viewed live by about 1 million people who line the route in the Los Angeles area. It has a worldwide television audience of about 90 million.
Band members said they were thrilled.
“This is really exciting to go to the Rose Bowl Parade,” said Matthew Harris, a freshman percussionist from Herndon. “I think it will be a highlight for the band and will help with its legacy.”
Brian Pisarcik, a senior drummer, agreed. “Absolutely this is great. It reflects well on the program and shows how all the hard work has paid off,” he said.
Even with all the awards, Matthew Zackschewski, of Centreville, a senior trumpeter, said he really values the friendships and camaraderie he developed while in the band. “It’s a community where everybody likes each other,” Zackschewski said.
The band will spend the next year in fundraising mode, Panoff said. It will take about $400,000 to transport the entire band to the parade. That cost does not include moving all the band equipment and uniforms, he said.