Iowa’s football players aren’t the only ones who’ve been working out preparing for the Rose Bowl on Friday.
The 245 members of the Iowa Marching Band have been doing some extra laps in Iowa City preparing to march in the Rose Bowl Parade. Now that they are in California, they’ll continue practicing for the five-and-a-half mile march.
Director Kevin Kastens says they’ll also play the pregame show and have the prestigious honor of playing the national anthem — which means everyone in the stadium will be watching. He says there will be fireworks in the middle of the anthem and it wraps up with a flyover by a B-2 bomber.
Kastens says they have a lot to do in California. “We’ll be rehearsing at Occidental College on Jack Kemp Stadium Field. We’ll have three rehearsals, three hours each, and that should pretty much get us into shape for the parade and for the pre-game and halftime show,” Kastens says.
The parade isn’t something new for the band, but the length of the parade on top of another performance is. “It’s certainly a little more extensive than our homecoming parade in Iowa City, ” Kastens says, “and that’s what we’ll be spending the most time on when we are in Los Angeles.” He says the have to be ready to march at 5:30 a.m., then will take a break to get something to eat, and head over to the stadium for the pre-game and halftime shows.
While they’ve had to do a little extra work for the physical aspect of marching, there isn’t a lot of extra music to learn.
“The parade organizers prefer that the college bands play the fight song. And so we are going to be playing ‘On Iowa’ and the Iowa Fight Song by Meredith Wilson and pretty much alternating between those,” Kastens says. He says they will play the full versions of the songs along the so-called “television corner,” of the parade and for the remainder of the parade will play short versions of the fight song.
He says they only play the fight song during the rest of the parade to acknowledge the Iowa fans. “The people have traveled a long way to see the Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl and we just want to treat them to the fight song on New Year’s Day,” Kastens explains. The Rose Bowl is one of the top games for football teams, and Kastens says it also is a plum for the band.
“It’s something that all bands look forward to on occasion. There are high school bands that will apply and go out to that parade, but very few high school bands across the country are accepted to march in that parade,” Kastens says. “For college bands you have to get there via your football team….it’s been 25 years and we are very much aware of that, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”
The Hawkeye Marching Band has members from 72 communities in Iowa, 51 in Illinois, and six other states.