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Adventures in Tinseltown

Featured Photo from Adventures in Tinseltown

The Lyman High School Band says “Hooray for Hollywood” as it travels west to march in a major holiday parade

Lyman High School made its presence known, heading clear across the country to perform in the Hollywood Christmas Parade in December. 

More than 100 students and 22 chaperones flew out to Hollywood to not only represent the school in the 3.5-mile parade, but also to take in some serious sightseeing. 

In addition to the celebrity-packed parade on a route that looped down Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, the band also visited Universal Studios and The Grammy Museum. They got to see Los Angeles at night from the Griffith Observatory, the band took in a film screening, and everyone had a blast at a beach party.

“On our final evening, we experienced a breathtaking sunset over the Pacific in Coronado,” says Ethan Poliner, a junior and alto saxophonist.

During the four-night, five-day trip, Drum Major Kaylee Burnham enjoyed her time at the San Diego Zoo the most. Overall, she was also fascinated with the diverse environments California presented in a relatively small area. 

“Sometimes we would drive, and there would just be mountains,” Kaylee describes. “Other times, there were lots of man-made things to see, buildings and infrastructure. There was just so much to take in.” 

Kaylee, a senior, was also part of a Lyman group that visited New York City to march in a St. Patrick’s Day parade last year. She says some of the same band members made this journey, as well.

Have Music, Will Travel
William Muse, Lyman’s longtime band director, organizes such performance trips every few years. He’s constantly researching new opportunities and applying for unique events.  

“Usually, more than half of the band participates, including dancers and color guard,” says band mom Rachel VanDemark. Her son, Quinn, plays trombone in the band, and Rachel and husband Don have two daughters who have since graduated from Lyman’s renowned band program. Don and Rachel were among the chaperones in Hollywood.

“The trip to California is the farthest the band has gone,” says Rachel, noting previous trips to parades and half-time shows in New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

Before the students could live it up Hollywood-style, though, there was work to be done. The band had to raise funds to help offset the costs of West Coast plane fare, transportation, food, and lodging. The group held car washes and Christmas-tree sales in the months leading up to the trip.

A unique money-maker, Kaylee says, was a mattress sale organized by the band, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the trip. 

“The mattress-company people set themselves up in our gym at Lyman,” says Kaylee. “Kids didn’t have to help too much – just promote it like crazy. We stood outside playing our music, so people knew to come in.”

With money raised and the trip underway, Kaylee says the parade day itself was a chilly one, especially for those whose bare fingers played cold metal instruments as the wind blew. The band was also marching directly behind some horses in the procession, which posed some interesting challenges. 

“They kind of warned us about it,” Kaylee laughs. “Mounds and mounds of poop.”

Poop factor aside, Kaylee says the parade and trip were extraordinary, and the bandmates were able to explore so many new things, together.

“My favorite part was that I would just be walking – at, say, Universal – and see my friends,” says Kaylee. “I was surrounded by people I love, but in a new place.”

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