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Busy Bee Band Ready for Rose Parade
Article by Debra Minor Wilson (12/19/99) - Times-West Virginian

FAIRMONT - A taste of honey in a bed of roses.

In less than two weeks, the Busy Bee Band and Honeybees of East Fairmont High School will treat the world to its sweet, award-winning sound in the 111th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year's Day.

On Saturday, the 240-member ensemble gave a sample of its parade and field show routines to more than 150 relatives and well-wishers, who packed the school gym to support and applaud their band.

The band demonstrated its powerful sound as only woodwinds and Sousaphones played "Georgy Girl."  When the brass joined in - the sound filling the gym and ricocheting off the walls - the band blew the audience away.

The historic news of the band's selection to be in the parade was announced last December by Ken Burrows, president of the Tournament of Roses Parade.

"It's hard to believe it's been a year," said Earl McConnell, band director.

"Those 360-plus days have flown.  But we've done a lot of growing.  We had more than 70 freshmen this year.  They were included as eighth graders in the preparation for this parade."

To a teenager, a year is forever.  But last year's forever is almost today.

"The students are becoming very excited.  They're realizing that in two weeks, we'll be performing in the Rose Bowl Parade," McConnell said.  The two-hour parade will be televised from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. EST by ABC, CBS and NBC, and by satellite to five continents, to more than 100 countries and to more than 450 million people.

You don't have to watch the entire parade to see these hometown favorites.  The Marion County band is the 28th unit out of 110 - right up front.

"This has been a tremendous experience for the students, me, the school and community," McConnell said.

As the band entertains the more than 1 million people along the 6 1/2 mile parade route, it will be marching into history.

Of the 25 bands in the parade, the EFHS band will be one of only 15 high school bands, chosen from 220 applicants.

It will also be the third band from West Virginia to march in the parade, and the first from North Central West Virginia.

Being one of the chosen 15 is an honor not only for the East High band, but for all of West Virginia.

"People will know of Fairmont," he said.  "And the support of everyone will be on the right shoulder of each band member during that parade."

The band will take four commercial flights from Pittsburgh to Pasadena, and use seven buses a day for ground transportation - at a cost of $160,000.

But don't worry; the band is "financially set and ready" to go, McConnell said.

The generous support from "all of Marion County" has helped make this a dream come true for the young musicians.

Other support has come from fund raisers; corporate individual and anonymous donations, and money from the city of Fairmont.

EFHS alumni "from California and Oregon and back to the East Coast" have been amazingly generous in their financial support, he added.

Marion Countians can share the band's exciting adventures in Pasadena through a daily column that week in the Times-West Virginian, along with photos from the site.

More information is also found on the band's website: www.busybeeband.com.

The parade will not be judged.  But that's OK, McConnell said.

"We've already been judged.  The fact that we're in the Tournament of Roses Parade has elevated our program on a national and worldwide level," he said.

The EFHS band was the only band chosen from its geographical region representing Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.  Bands needed to have at least 200 members to be eligible for the 2000 Tournament of Roses parade.

  Arrival/Departure | Bandfest/Float Viewing | Hard Rock/Universal Studios | Santa Monica Pier
Rose Parade | New Year's Eve | Disney | Misc. | Legislature Presentation

2000 Tournament of Roses Coverage



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