Colorful uniforms add impact and crowd-pleasing eye candy to marching bands. Two excellent examples in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade were Hawai'i All State Marching Band Na Koa Ali'i, based in Kaneohe, Hawaii, and Liberty High School Grenadier Band from Bethlehem, Penn.
Band aficionados can check out Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4 in this column. The list attached to this article has colorful photos and details of the uniforms and notes on the bands.
Students from 40 high schools participate in the 366-member Hawai'i All State Marching Band Na Koa Ali'i. They come from both public and private schools, with 67 percent from the island of Oahu, 14 percent from Maui, 11 percent from Kauai and 8 percent from Hawaii. The unit is let by directors John Riggle and Kerry Wasano, assistant directors Henry Fu, Randy Skaggs and Catherine Paleka, and drum major Aubrey Fortuno. Previous Rose Parade appearances were in 2003 and 2008.
The 249-member Grenadier unit wears British uniforms replication Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards, with red military jackets, black busbys, and colorful kilts. The band has had only four directors since its inception in 1926, and two—current director Long and second director Ron Sherry—are alumni of the program. Previous Rose Parade appearance was in 2009.
The remaining bands in the 2014 Rose Parade are profiled in three other articles. Subscribe to Tournament of Roses Examiner by clicking the "Subscribe" link to be notified as articles are posted.
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4 islands, 40 high schools
Hawai'i All State Marching Band Na Koa Ali'i was formed in 2002 in preparation for the 2003 Tournament of Roses Parade. Students are nominated by band directors from each of the Hawaiian public and private high schools that have instrumental programs; currently, this represents 40 schools on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii. The 2014 Rose Parade is the fifth time the group has been assembled. Performances included the 2003 and 2008 Rose Parade and 2005 and 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Braving the cold
It wouldn’t be New Year’s Day in Pasadena without a few brave dancers in scanty dress. These two fellows, along with two other conch players, give the shaka hand sign to the parade watchers. For added entertainment value, the conch players with Hawai'i All State Marching Band Na Koa Ali'i wore only traditional fern leis and ankle bracelets, loin cloths, and beads.
Trumpeting in the New Year
The conch shell is used throughout the Pacific Islands, as well as Mesoamerica and India, for rituals and communication. In Pasadena at the Rose Parade, traditionally dressed musicians trumpet in the New Year, sending aloha and Hau’oli lanui (Happy New Year) greetings to viewers. Na Koa Ali’i means “The King’s Warriors.”
Hula dancers with Hawai'i All State Marching Band Na Koa Ali'i in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade dressed in Hula Auana (modern) hula style, yellow hau “grass” skirts with bright yellow tops, and yellow hibiscus hairpieces with traditional kupe'e and leis. In place of pompoms, girls wave traditional feathered uli uli.
Tahitian dancers with Hawai'i All State Marching Band Na Koa Ali'i in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade wore traditional Tahitian-style outfits with long red “grass” skirts with yellow accents. The women were adorned with shell leis and the unique Tahitian-style feathered headpiece of yellow, red and black feathers with mother-of-pearl medallion.
Rainbow of aloha shirts
Band members of Na Koa Ali'i wear a knee-length ‘ili hau over black pants, long-sleeved kaumana aloha shirts in rainbow colors, designed by Mamo Howell, top designer of Hawaiian Aloha Wear, fern haku (head leis) and kope’e (wrist leis). Different colors of shirts are presented every few ranks, so when seen from side to side or from above, the band appears to be a marching rainbow.
Putting the show together
The full Na Koa Ali'i ensemble did not practice together until everyone arrived in Southern California six days before the Rose Parade and three days prior to the Bandfest appearance. Each island has its lead director and directors Kerry Wasano and John Riggle flew to the various islands each month to teach the members and oversee the music, marching, and showmanship. Percussion, color guard, and hula specialists who came in as clinicians on occasion.
Bagpipers in feathered headdress
The 22 bagpipers of Liberty High School Grenadier Band from Bethlehem, Penn. are fitted out as Her Majesty’s Scots Guard Pipers with traditional feathered bonnets. Director Kevin Long and assistant director Allen Frank wear the appropriate uniform of a Coldstream Guards Director of Music. Drum major is David Guarriello. The band made its first Rose Parade appearance in 2009.
Musicians pay tribute to Coldstream Guards
Liberty High School Grenadier musicians wear the exact uniform of Her Majesty’s Band of the Coldstream Guards, including 80 sporting real bearskin busbys. In 1976, the Grenadiers provided the music for England’s Queen Elizabeth II’s presentation of the Bicentennial Bell. The group was the first high school band in the world to perform in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Of the current members, 27 had siblings in the 2009 Rose Parade. The band currently has a set of triplets and two sets of twins.
Majorettes in Highland outfits
The majorette uniform of the Liberty High School Grenadier Band is inspired by Highland dress with a traditional Guard musician’s tunic. One of the more band famous alumni is Jonathan Frakes, Class of 1970. Star Trek: The Next Generation fans may remember the trombone standing in the corner of Cmdr. William Riker’s quarters, and hearing him play it in a jazz combo. Jimmy DeGrasso, Class of 1981, is a percussionist with Black Star Rider and formerly played with Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne, White Lion and Alice Cooper.