Around 150 Riverview High students traveled 2,500 miles to perform in the parade on Hollywood Boulevard.
Everyone knows the “American Idol” catch-phrase: You’re going to Hollywood!
For 154 students at Riverview High School, that phrase jumped off their television screens and into reality.
Members of the Riverview High School Kiltie Band traveled more than 2,500 miles to participate in the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
The Kilties try to travel somewhere to perform every two years which allows the students see a bigger stage in which to perform, said Director of Bands Andrew Dubbert.
“A lot of high schoolers are struggling with things like anxiety, and the more that they’re in situations where they know they can be successful, the more it helps them manage their anxiety,” he said, adding it's also advantageous to allow students to travel and see other parts of the country.
The other reason the band travels, Dubbert said, is because it offers students the chance to visit a part of the world they may not otherwise get the chance to do.
"We’re giving them a performance aspect and a cultural aspect.”
Throughout the years, the Kiltie Band has performed in such events as the inaugural parade for president Ronald Reagan, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, and the New York Macy’s Thanksgivings Day Parade, among others.
For each parade, the Kitties must apply to perform. If selected, the planning begins. Once he got word that the Kilties had been accepted to the Hollywood Christmas Parade, which took place shortly after Thanksgiving, Dubbert began making plans on how to fly more than 150 students and their uniforms and instruments to California.
“It was scary,” Dubbert said. “You just look out the window of the plane and see them throwing instruments and you’re just terrified it’s going to get damaged. As soon as we got to the hotel I went through and started checking the instruments to make sure nothing was broken.”
Fortunately, everything was fine for the performance, in which the band played the themes from “Rocky” and “The Avengers,” which senior trumpet player Justin Korwin said was “a lot of fun.”
“I enjoyed playing along with my fellow bandmates, making it sound nice,” Korwin said. “Playing it for other people outside of Florida is pretty cool, having them cheer for you and stuff.”
Even though it was longer parade at 3.5 miles, band captain Alex Garcia said he was really focused on marching well.
“I was trying really hard,” he said. “I would see people recording and I didn’t want to just look like I was walking around. I actually wanted to look like I was marching.”
Senior clarinet player Eric Negroni said he was trying hard too, but it became hard not to laugh when his family members followed him for nearly two miles of the parade.
“My cousin would actually sometimes get really close to me because I was on the end,” Negroni said. “Two times the security had to tell her to not get so close to me.”
The trio said the band received a lot of compliments about their sound and look, and they even appeared on Grand Marshal Mario Lopez’s Instagram feed.
“It makes you feel good because it makes you feel that your hard work is noticed and appreciated,” Dubbert said. “I get emails every now and then saying the band sounded great, but when they see it on their forum and the see themselves on Mario Lopez’s Instagram, that’s pretty cool.”
Beyond their parade performance, the group visited Universal Studios, where Korwin enjoyed Harry Potter World, Knott’s Berry Farm, Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Garcia, though, was excited about something else entirely.
“The churros were really good. Every time I saw churros on the trip, I bought one and I ended up spending around $35 on churros,” Garcia said. “I probably had 10 different ones.”