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The Carmel Marching Band is making a trip to Pasadena, Calif., to play in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. Check here each day to get updates on their trip and how they represent Carmel before a national television audience.

What a great way to end an incredible trip!

Today was our last day in California and we spent it in Disneyland. It was my first time there. Between Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland, every minute was jam-packed with fun with my 240+ friends. I would highly suggest Disneyland if you ever get the chance! But all good things must come to the end, and as they say in Hollywood, “that’s a wrap.”  So, tonight we leave for home, because there’s nothing like being back home again in Indiana. What an unforgettable trip, full of memories that will last a lifetime. Having the opportunity to come out and march in the world-renowned Rose Parade has truly been a blessing. I’ve mentioned it before, but we’re truly honored to represent the great city of Carmel. I speak for every student in the band when I say thank you for all of your great support!

-Mark Knapp

I am so happy

Probably because I spent all day at the happiest place on earth. Disneyland… The one, the only. We spent literally the whole day here – both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. We attempted to tackle as many rides as humanly possible, enjoy many delicious snacks (so good that they’re probably made with Disney magic), and shop at the plentiful gift stores. It was wonderful. Very crowded, but very happy. And we loved every second. We’re headed back to LAX to fly the red-eye and we’ll be home around 7:00. All 244 of us are exhausted, sunburnt and a little wrinkled, but very content band kids.

We did it.

We competed a final show. Wore our uniforms for the last time. Marched the Rose Parade. Learned how to deal with each other for 24 hours a day, for 7 whole days. Learned the meaning of friendship. Worked together to make a common dream come true. And overall, had the most wonderful trip that anyone could have ever asked for… I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I hope that in 50 years, I can turn to my grandchildren watching the Rose Parade and say, “I’ve been there. I’ve done that.” I hope I can watch them compete in a Grand National Championship and say “I’ve been on that field. I won one.” But mostly, when they come to me and say that they’ve found their best friends for life and that the world is a better place because of them… I want to be able to say “I understand” and mean it. Understand their need and desire for hard work and pursuit of excellence. Their emphasis of fellowship. That’s what band is about. Winning trophies is great, but the friendships I have mean more. And that’s a big part of why I love band and why I loved this trip. Thanks for listening, Indiana… I hope we made you proud. Until next time.

– Abby Zetzl

Parade was nothing short of incredible

One year of planning, fundraising, and dreaming came down to this moment.  The granddaddy of them all. The most prestigious parade out there.  The whole reason we came out to California in the first place.  Today, we marched in the 125th annual Tournament of Roses Parade.  Let me tell you, it was nothing short of incredible.  Imagine marching for a solid five and a half miles with 240 of your closest friends on streets packed to the brink with one million people and you’ll have a rough idea.

We were honored to represent Indiana and Carmel in the parade.  Today was also a sentimental day for all the seniors in the band, as it was the last time we will march with this group we’ve devoted our lives to.  Today was the last day we would put on our royal blue and black uniforms.  As we marched down Colorado boulevard, I couldn’t help but to reflect on how I’d gotten to that moment.

It started last year, winning the Bands of America Grand National Championships.  Then it was a year of planning by our wonderful directors and loyal volunteers and the support of our loving parents.  We also received a ton of community support; yet another example of what a special place Carmel is.  After another incredibly successful season, we started rehearsing music and parade formations.  It all culminated in today’s parade.

The theme this year was “dreams come true” and it certainly was an appropriate one.  Our dreams really did come true this trip.  Participating in one of the most renowned parades in the world truly was a dream come true.  It was an absolutely incredible experience and a perfect way to end a high school career with the Carmel Marching Greyhounds.

-Mark Knapp

The saxophone section of the Carmel Marching Band during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1.

The saxophone section of the Carmel Marching Band during the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1.

We survived the Rose Parade

WE DID IT! Today is a day that I’m sure I will remember for the rest of my life. To be brutally honest, I was really nervous going into this morning… It’s like competition days all over again. Mr. Kreke sometimes calls me “bug eyes” (in a caring, director-ly way!) because I get super quiet and stare around at everything and then I get on the field and it’s fine and I laugh at my own ridiculousness. Anyway, I was nervous as I put my uniform on for the last time early this morning.

My friend Wesley marched the route last year and kept repeating how long the distance was. (5 1/2 miles, in case you were wondering.) But actually… It was fun. I mean, it was really, genuinely enjoyable. Of course, I felt like my arms were coming detached from my body (apparently, I need to start lifting weights), sidestepped more than a few piles of horse droppings, and grew very, very tired of “In the Stone” and “Enter Sandman.” But like I mentioned before – it was worth every second. I wish I could do it again, tomorrow even!

It blows my mind how many people were behind us throughout this journey, and I think it finally hit me tonight. People (cough, our directors and wonderful Band Booster President, Mr. Dawson, plus a whole slew of others, cough) have been planning this since we won Grand Nationals in 2012. They somehow managed to put us through another rigorous, exciting and very successful season; deal with our teenage antics; teach us in concert band and jazz band; and plan this trip at the same time.

These people are superheroes.

I think that sometimes our image of superheroes gets a little twisted. We’re so accustomed to either 1) Superman, Batman, Captain America, etc. or 2) the police force, firefighters, EMTs, soldiers, etc. These people ARE heroes, don’t get me wrong. They do incredible, incredible things and I’m eternally grateful for them and their services. But we sometimes forget the the truest of heroes are those around us. For example, Mr. Kreke TERRIFIED me freshman year. I practically had a panic attack if we were mere seconds behind schedule because I absolutely could not be late for band. No way. And then… I relaxed. Or maybe he did. Or maybe both.

But I began to appreciate his humor and how hard he pushed us. I understand now. And I think he’s great. I still get to rehearsal on time, but I’m not quaking in my boots if I need to speak to him. And I’ve found that I actually ENJOY when he takes the podium or when I get to speak with him. He’s a great director, a great teacher and a great role model. And he’s a softie for certain things, like a giant teddy bear. But I never said that.

I also came to appreciate the power of family tonight. We had a banquet in the ballroom and our families came to see us! I know that my band family worked all season to earn our trip here. But my biological family made some sacrifices to get me here too, and I hope they know how much I appreciate it. Ever since I can remember, they have been to every competition, show, recital, game or concert. Always pushing me, always having my back.

And because of that, I’ve found my passion. Because of them, I pursue my dreams. And because of the combination of my two families, a huge dream came true today. I marched the Rose Parade. How cool is that? Such an amazing day. And now that we’ve done the Rose Parade, what do we do with this victory? We head to Disneyland, of course. It’s the happiest place on Earth. 🙂

– Abby Zetzl

Rose Parade: Conquered

I think I have discovered muscles I didn’t know existed, my arms are numb, and my feet are still throbbing. BUT. If I could go back and do it all again, I totally would.

There must have been a million people there watching, and their applause and loud cheers kept us going. At one point, the parade stopped and many people sitting on the sidewalk ran out to take photos with us. I have to say, marching a parade under the beautiful sun, to a loving crowd, in a uniform that people actually recognize is pretty darn close to perfect.

When we passed by the section where our parents were, you could practically feel the pride radiating in the air. It was cool to see all the Carmel gear and smiley faces that we’re so used to seeing at shows.

After we finished the long route winding towards the gorgeous mountains, we ate a delicious lunch and traded pins with the other bands. Personally, I hit it off with a piccolo player from Westfield (Virginia, not Indiana) who said that they had been following our program forever and it was an honor to finally meet a band that had so much talent. I was so flattered by that… I thought it was super cool that people actually know who we are. It’s a compliment to us, our program, our school and our city.

I love California, but I miss you, Indiana. Thank you for supporting us always. Dreams really did come true marching that parade route day. After 400 and some days of waiting to finally step off… Every step of the way was absolutely worth the wait.

– Abby Zetzl

This is what we’ve been working for

Well, dreams really do come true. It’s been demonstrated by this whole trip – simply being invited to march the Rose Parade is a dream come true. I’m currently on the coach headed to the parade… Our audience is HUGE, and hopefully includes you, Indiana. Thank you for being behind us every step of the way. As we step off the line this morning, we hope to make you proud. 🙂

– Abby Zetzl

Theme park day!

Today we spent most of the day in Universal Studios, riding rides, watching shows and buying over-priced souvenirs. I would personally suggest the Transformers ride and the Mummy ride. After a day of fun at Universal, it was off the Santa Monica pier. What an incredible view! We topped it all off with an incredible sunset along the beach! To end it all, we watched the ball drop in the ball room of the hotel…in Indiana time that is.

-Mark Knapp

We can make it

Alrighty. Today’s entry is rather short, but only because I have to wake up really, really early in the morning. 🙂

The Marching Greyhounds took Universal Studios by storm today, and we had a blast doing it. There were rides, shops, delicious (and fattening) food… All under a cloudless sky and a shining sun. Have I mentioned yet that California is absolutely flawless?

After a few hours at Universal, we drove to the beach… For a girl who has only viewed the Atlantic Ocean once in my 15 years, seeing the Pacific was amazing. The water was freezing, but the feeling of sand between my toes and waves crashing on my ankles was pure bliss. We also rode the Farris wheel – AMAZING views – and did some shopping and walking around. Overall, another fantastic day… Paradise before we meet the dawn of tomorrow.

I got a text from an Avon mello player today wishing us luck tomorrow, which was very sweet. I laughed, thanked her, and told her we would need it. I think we’re going to be fantastic, I really do. And I’m excited beyond all reason.

I just think that 5 1/2 miles is a very long way. But you know what? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We can make it… If we can survive an Indiana summer, we can do this. And we’re going to make the most of it. I absolutely cannot wait… Here’s to tomorrow and the rest of 2014, Indiana.

Happy New Year!

– Abby Zetzl








We love California

Today was strictly a relaxing day in California… What more could a girl ask for?! We’ve been at Universal Studios all day… So much to see and do! All the staff members were animated and friendly and it was just enjoyable to be around them. We took an incredible tour and enjoyed ourselves on some rides… There were grins and a lot of laughter all around. As always, I’ll provide details tonight. We are LOVING it here! Or as we say on our Twitter feed – #OccupyPasadena.

– Abby Zetzl

My friend Katie found a minion cup!

My friend Katie found a minion cup!

A cultural exchange

The day continued to be beautiful! After we performed at Band Fest we ate delicious In N Out burgers in the company of bands from all over the world! Meeting a band from Japan was such a cool experience because we may not have much in common but we have a passion for the same thing. A long drive including traffic lead us to the monumental Rose Bowl stadium!! Getting to see the floats being made was one of the things on this trip that for many of us, was once in a life time experience. We are headed to dinner now after a hectic turn around due to crazy LA traffic.

-Christine Alred

I. Am. So. Tired.

And you know what? I wouldn’t trade being here for the world. I know I mentioned this before but the weather here is gorgeous… We really lucked out timing-wise. We got in our supersuits, I mean uniforms, immediately after breakfast this morning. Embarrassing fact: my bib (overalls) was really, really tight. But it zipped! So we made it work! Maybe I shouldn’t be eating so much of this delicious California food.

We drove to a show and it was déjà vu back to competition season, which I miss terribly. It was bittersweet giving our last show ever. Totem kicked my butt physically, but after months and months of practice I got it. We’re incredibly blessed to have the talent of Mr. Richard Saucedo (the man, the myth, the legend) writing for us, and being done with our gorgeous music was kinda sad. But at the same time, it was wonderful to have our parents there rooting us on, alongside some people that were unbelievably excited to see us live. A girl even asked if she could take a picture with me in uniform!

Look out, Indiana… California brings out my inner star. (HA!)

We got to trade pins with other bands, and I got one from Japan! It was amazing to talk to them… There was a bit of a language barrier, but we got it figured out. That is exactly why I love band so much – meeting other kids who love this as much as I do is an indescribable experience. After our show, we headed to the Rose Bowl for a group picture – all 243 of us.

Then we got to see how the floats are made. HOLY COW. The smell! It’s something else… Not only do the flowers look beautiful, but the smell is amazing. Did you know every surface of the float has to be covered with organic material? Fun fact!

After that, we went to enjoy an amazing Mexican dinner and now we’re relaxing at the hotel. I think we’ll all sleep pretty soon – we need our rest for tomorrow. It’s promising to be another incredible day… Can I stay here forever?

– Abby Zetzl

Day 3: Final performance of Totem

If I had to pick a word to describe today, it’d be surreal. Today was Band Fest, an exhibition for all the bands in the Rose Parade to show what they got. Today was the very last time we performed our competition show, Totem. Traditionally, nationals would be the last time we perform our show, but this year was different This time, there no judges, no trophies, no rivals. Today was nothing but going out on the field and having fun. I think I speak for the entire band when I say we loved that show. It felt great to get one last opportunity to perform the show we put our blood, sweat, and tears into. It’s hard to describe how much we appreciate all the support we have gotten from the community in giving us that opportunity.

-Mark Knapp

City walk was so fun last night!

I felt like we were in Vegas because of all the flashy lights!

It’s 8:16 a.m. on Dec. 30 here and we’re already on the buses in uniform ready to leave for Pasadena City College to perform in Band Fest! It feels great having the uniforms on! We’re going to perform our competition show for the last time, and for seniors this is the last show ever. I could say the excitement level is high, but most people are asleep from the early wake up call. But for California, I think it’s safe to say we could all stay here forever.

-Christine Alred

City Walk

City Walk

Nice to practice in the sunshine

Wow what a day we had yesterday! After we arrived, we went to the farmers market and ate fabulous fresh food while enjoying the beautiful day! 75 and no clouds in the sky!

After a great tour of the city we went back to the hotel and all fell asleep almost immediately after dinner. Today we went to the House of Blues which was so cool!

Practicing this afternoon in the sun was amazing, compared to the freezing temperatures at home! Now we are headed to City Walk to eat dinner at Buca di Beppo, and explore a little bit more!

-Christine Alred

 Day 2: Rehearsing and shopping

Another beautiful day in L.A.! We started off the day with a special breakfast at the House of Blues. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves and even got to see the VIP rooms. There’s no telling how many famous stars have sat in those chairs! We spent most of the day rehearsing for the parade at a local high school. The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny and warm with a nice breeze. Afterwards, it was off to City Walk, a huge shopping district in front of Universal Studios. There’s something about setting 240 teenagers in a massive shopping center that makes me smile. I’ll be honest, I spent more than I should have…..

-Mark Knapp

Rehearsal for Band Fest

Rehearsal for Band Fest

‘I could live in California forever’

Wow. That is all. I feel like that word is overused, but I can’t think of a better way to describe the wonderful-ness that is California. The weather here is drop-dead gorgeous. Sorry to rub it in, Indiana, love you and all but… I’d much rather be here. It’s great.

Adventures of the day: We dropped by House of Blues for breakfast. Who knew you could play jazz on a clarinet?! There was art everywhere, including a piece that cost $500,000! Almost as much as this trip!

Then we drove to the lovely Santa Monica high school to have rehearsal. Whoo-ee! I remember now why I was in great shape during the season. Having people watch us was encouraging, but even with that, we only had a two hour rehearsal, and I kind of felt like I had been run over by a bus. I probably looked like it, too. But that’s OK.

After practice, we changed clothes and headed to the CityWalk. So much fun! My WONDERFUL chaperone says that my three roommates and I are joined at the hip, and we are – literally, sometimes. We spent a few hours shopping and indulging in a delightful dinner… Such fun. Did I mention that already? We’re having such a good time. Tomorrow is one of my favorite kinds of days – show day! I can’t wait… But first I need rest.

Thoughts throughout rehearsal today:
Wow. I could live in California forever. Actually, this is a little toasty. More like a lot toasty. Palm trees are great! Palm trees provide no shade! My arms are going to fall off. When did my mellophone get so heavy? It only weighs four pounds, come on now.

I get to march the Rose Parade! I think I forget how to march. Just kidding – I’ve done this for two years, now I remember. My lungs are going to explode. Mmm, feel that California air. I can’t do this for another minute! We’re doing a run – I got this. I’m exhausted. It was worth it.
I guess you could say I’m a little conflicted. Overall… Boy, do I love this band.

Until tomorrow, Indiana.

– Abby Zetzl

Day 1: Sightseeing

I’ll be honest, waking up bright and early in the morning is one of my least favorite things to do, but I’ll make an exception for this. After all it’s not every day you get the chance to go to Southern California and perform in front of thousands upon thousands of people. Today was mainly a sight seeing day in Los Angeles. After arriving in California we had lunch in the famous Farmer’s Market, a prime area for spitting celebrities. It didn’t disappoint, as we spotted Josh Peck. After an eventful lunch, we took a bus tour of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. It was almost too much to handle! Famous clubs in every street corner, sports cars left and right, shopping districts as far as the eye can see, LA has it all. It’s been one day and we’ve already made so many memories. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

-Mark Knapp

Enjoying the weather, local music

Such an amazing morning at House of Blues! We got to enjoy a delicious breakfast and some gorgeous music – a perfect morning for us musicians! Now we’re off to practice. I’m wearing shorts! In December! Boy do I love California! 🙂

– Abby Zetzl

We made it!

To say today was an adventure is an enormous understatement. We arrived at school at 4:45 a.m. and drove straight to the airport. We flew on a charter flight in order to keep us all on one plane – I can honestly say we were aboard the biggest plane I’ve ever seen in my life. Think monster truck wheels times about 17 zillion and that will give you the size of our engine. Once we finally arrived at LAX, we went to the Farmer’s Market and shopped around for a while. They have EVERYTHING there! My personal goal of the day was to find a kumquat after my friend Alex talked about them on the bus ride and all I have to say is… Mission accomplished. We also got to take a tour of L.A. and Beverly Hills – as much as I wished to see a star (especially Jennifer Lawrence!), we didn’t see anyone famous. However, it was super cool to see the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive and the Chinese theater. We also saw street performers, including Elvis – so, so cool. If the rest of the trip is as great as today was, we’re set for the best trip EVER.

– Abby Zetzl

Up before dawn to leave for California

I'm ready to get this trip started.

I’m ready to get this trip started.

Band members hand to get up early Dec. 28 to make their flight to California.

Band members hand to get up early Dec. 28 to make their flight to California.

It’s here! It’s finally here! We have been waiting for this day for 413 days … 413 days ago, we stood in Lucas Oil Stadium – ecstatic after hearing the news of our victory. 413 days later, we have completed another season, made more memories, and had the time of our lives – again.

And now? Now we get to have an adventure no Carmel band has had before. We’re up at some horrible hour – on a Saturday of winter break, no less – and yet, none of us have anything but grins.

We can’t wait to make memories that will last us a lifetime. California or bust!

-Abby Zetzl


Meet Christine

Christine Alred plays piccolo in the marching band.

Christine Alred plays piccolo in the marching band.

My name is Christine Alred, and I’m a senior piccolo player with the Carmel Marching Band. I am so excited for this trip!

Getting the opportunity to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Bowl Parade all within four years is incredible! As well as being able to perform in the granddaddy parade of them all, I’m so excited to be in one of the greatest cities with my closest friends and family!

The experiences and memories made on this trip we will be things we will able to talk about and reminisce on for the rest of our lives. Let’s get this trip going!

-Christine Alred


Meet Mark

Mark Knapp plays alto saxophone in the marching band.

Mark Knapp plays alto saxophone in the marching band.

Hi, I’m Mark Knapp.  I’m 18 years old and a senior at Carmel High School.  I play the alto saxophone in the band.  I can’t describe how excited I am for the trip.  I’ve been looking forward to this ever since we were invited last November.

It’s an honor to represent the city of Carmel in such a prestigious parade!  I can’t wait to go.

-Mark Knapp


Meet Abby

Abby Zetzl plays mellophone in the marching band

Abby Zetzl plays mellophone in the marching band

My name is Abby Zetzl and I’m a sophomore mellophone player for the CHS Marching Band. I’m excited to finally (finally!) hop on the plane and get going to Pasadena. I’ve been looking forward to this day since the 2012 Grand National Championships when Chuck Henson’s booming voice announced that we had won and would be invited to California for the Tournament of Roses Parade. Ever since then, we’ve been very busy preparing for the biggest performance in this marching band’s extensive history.

Our competition season ended in early November, but we’ve been practicing twice a week for the parade, as well as keeping our competition show fresh in our minds and muscles for Bandfest.

As a marching band participant, I think it’s safe to say I’ve experienced the full range of Indiana’s weather. Practicing on asphalt in the middle of summer isn’t exactly enjoyable, but learning to make a turn in the frigid air and falling snow is an experience of its own.

All of this is worth it though – I am absolutely thrilled to display our incredible program to the nation and world. And spending a week in California with my second family? I can’t imagine a better experience. Two days and counting!

-Abby Zetzl


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