Busy Bee Band Ready for Rose Parade
Article by Debra Minor Wilson (12/19/99) - Times-West
FAIRMONT - A taste of honey in a bed of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.