For the first time in its 133-year history, one Rose Parade entry will consist of both a float and a marching band. Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) Instrumental Music Director and Performing Arts Department Chair Bill Bradbury will take part in the historic event. Bradbury will participate in the “Band of Marching Band Directors” alongside the float down the 5.5-mile route on Jan. 1.
The entry is called “Saluting America’s Band Directors” and will include an animated float led by a marching band composed entirely of music directors from schools, colleges, universities and military bands from across the United States and Mexico.
“It is something special and quite a unique ensemble with a collection of directors from around the country,” Bradbury told the Courier. “As a marching band we’re kind of considered ancillary to the float. They made it that way so we won’t occupy a spot that would be for a band, but we will be a marching band.”
Bradbury has taught music at BHHS for 13 years and has worked in the Beverly Hills Unified School district for 27 years. This will be his second time marching in the Rose Parade. The first occasion was as a young adult more than 30 years ago with Edison High School in Huntington Beach. His instrument of choice is the sousaphone, a type of tuba that wraps around the player’s body in a circle, making it easier to carry during a march than the traditional tuba. Still, at about 30 pounds, marching with the brass instrument for more than five miles requires the player to be in fairly good shape.
“Everybody’s coming with the presupposition that you’ve memorized the music and that you’re somewhat in shape for this endeavor,” said Bradbury. That is why he has been training since Thanksgiving, marching on the high school track and at La Cienega Park while playing along to recordings of the band’s set list.
“I’m good. I’m pretty happy about my training,” Bradbury said, adding that he has been completing the 5.5-mile trek while playing most of the time. “It’s been something worthwhile to be able to work for.”
The only reward for his efforts is experience points, but Bradbury says he is marching to honor his parents and music teachers who supported him over the years.
“And I march as an inspiration to my students as well,” Bradbury said. “As an inspiration to these guys that the work and commitment to perform in a parade is something special.”
Organizers canceled the Rose Parade in 2020 due to COVID-19. It was the first time since World War II and only the fourth time in its history that the parade was canceled. Bradbury said that reopening the parade after the pandemic makes his participation this year even more exciting.
“The greatest two parades are the Rose Parade and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Bradbury. “As a band director, if you ever get to be in one of those parades it’s really special.”
In 2019 the parade drew about 700,000 people to Pasadena and included 24 bands, 18 horse units and 42 floats. About 17 million households watched the parade on television.