Pride of the Mountains’ Travel Blog

(Editor’s Note: The Pride of the Mountains trip to California has ended. News updates, as they were compiled last week from the Western Carolinian’s Facebook page at and the Tournament of Roses website operated by WCU’s News Services at, are listed below.)

Pride of the Mountains voted best band

The Pride of the Mountains was determined the best band on Monday, Jan. 3 in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade in an online contest held by local T.V. affiliate KTLA in California. Voting was open from 10 a.m. PST on Saturday, Jan. 1 until 5 p.m. PST on Monday, Jan. 3. WCU had 40% of the vote, beating out All-Birdville ISD Marching Band. The Pride of the Mountains had 72,287 votes compared to All-Birdville’s  61,686.

Everything has come to an end at some point…

The Pride of the Mountains spent their last day in California on Sunday, Jan. 2 having fun at Disney Land. By the time clocks struck 1 p.m. on the East Coast on Monday, Jan 3., all members of the band were either on their way to the airport to return home or were already in the air.

We will continue to post some updates about the band’s travels in the coming days and how everyone is still feeling about the week they will sure to never forget. Also stay tuned for more photos and videos to be posted as we get together with members of the Pride of the Mountains when they touch down in North Carolina.

Our first print edition of the Spring semester will also have a wrap-up of the band’s trip to California and their entire season.

Band members discussed in Pasadena Star News

In an article in the Sunday, Jan. 2 edition of the Pasadena Star News entitled “A closer look at the Rose Parade”, an experience two members of the Pride of the Mountains had at lunch on Saturday was described.

“Tyler Johnson, 20, and Delante Randolph, 18, are used to good barbecue, but the two, both members of the [Western] Carolina University Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, went wild after tasting their first burgers from In-N-Out, which provided free food to band members at the end the parade route. They couldn’t wait to try the “animal-style” fries.”

End-of-year banquet

Members of the Pride of the Mountains and their family and guests piled into a conference room at their hotel for the band’s annual end-of-year banquet at 7 p.m. PST on Saturday, Jan. 1. The banquet officially signified the end of the Pride of the Mountain season and it celebrated all of the members hard work through the season and also honored the graduating seniors’ commitment over the years. Awards and gifts were given out.

In addition, the band gave their gratitude to those who had helped them in 2010. Among them was Jimmy Crocker, a fan of the Pride of the Mountains who drove trucks cross country and built “wow” equipment for the 2010 “Rock U” show. He received a standing ovation at the band banquet.

Many also expressed gratitude to Chancellor John W. Bardo for his support of the band and helping it grow, including his role in changing the group’s name from the Marching Cats to the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band.

“He changed our world,” said Buckner.

Students also shared memories of personal experiences with Buckner, who was presented with a Silver Baton award. Keith Marwitz, a senior, remembered the talk Buckner gave him after he was late his first day as a freshman.

“I have never been late again,” said Marwitz light-heartedly.

Drum major Amy Shuford recalled how Buckner told her he wanted her in his band and gave her his card when she was at WCU for a band event years before she came to Western Carolina.

“I just want to let you know I still have your business card in my wallet,” said Shuford.

Kate Murphy, an alumna who works at WCU and instructs the color guard, read a letter she wrote to Buckner in which she said the Pride makes her heart explode with purple and gold.

“You make non-band people fall in love with us.”

Band members and supporters share thoughts and feelings on Rose Parade

Below are comments from WCU students who marched in the 2011 Rose Parade and the fans who went to see them. 

“When we made the turn, there were people just lined up,” said Rachel Rimmer, a senior band staff coordinator majoring in music education from Siler City. “It was incredible, and we could see people’s reactions. I couldn’t believe how excited people were. You could hear them yelling for us. When we were allowed to take a break, our drumline was high-fiving kids, and we were talking to people in the crowd. When we finished, we swarmed the American Red Cross for water.”

“We had people stopping to take pictures with us when we were marking time, and little kids were like, ‘Don’t step in the poo’ (from the horses),” said Whitney Hinceman, a senior piccolo player from Mooresville. “We couldn’t avoid it, but there was at times a small swerve effect.”

Parents of Lindsey D. Entrekin, a freshman clarinet player from Greensboro, said they were excited to come to the Rose Parade and that the college bands that marched really set the bar high for marching bands.

“I have been nothing but impressed with the band and their talent ever since I saw them for the first time, and I am as proud as if I were a parent of a member of the band,” said Hilda Leonard of Ramseur, who came to the parade with friend Kathy Parham, whose daughter is in the band.

“I am very proud and partial about our band,” said Betty Allen, president of the WCU Alumni Association. “They are fantastic, but today, in that parade, they exceeded my expectations, and my expectations are high. I was just in awe.”

“It was awesome”, said Chris Wilson, a senior trombone section leader from Weaverville. “It’s mind-boggling to think about so many people coming to see something like that.”

“I had never seen so many people in my life,” said Hannah Austin, sophomore drum major majoring in music education, from Penrose. “I did not feel nervous at all, just excited. We couldn’t believe the day had actually come –that our hard work was paying off for the world to see. … It didn’t feel as long as I expected, but I am feeling (some soreness) now in my feet, ankles and calves. I think a lot of us will be taking naps or hitting the hot tub at the hotel before the band banquet.”

“We were required to unload our 400 people and all of that equipment in seven minutes before the parade. We did it in five,” said Bob Buckner, director of the Western Carolina University Pride of the Mountains Marching Band. “When we turned on to Orange, it hit me we were in a big parade. The crowd was fun. When I would wave, as many as 70 people might wave back. And even though we were 2,500 miles from Cullowhee, when we played the fight song people chanted ‘Go Western.’ I got pretty emotional. I was just so proud about being from Western and doing this. I am just really happy.”

“This was an amazing way to finish off our marching career,” said Richard Huffman, a senior trombone player from Hickory. “It’s been really emotional… seeing everyone clapping when we got back. We’re always going to be able to say ‘I was in the Rose Parade. I remember that corner. I remember seeing those people’ I will always have that.”

Suburban Legends gives band a shout out on Facebook

The band Suburban Legends posted a message on their Facebook for the Pride of the Mountains today : “Western Carolina University Marching Band was AMAZING today! We feel very lucky to have met some of them at our HOB show. FYI, they played our song “You” for the Rose Parade and KILLED IT! Great Job Guys & Gals!”

Vote for Pride of the Mountains as best band

Local T.V. affiliate KTLA in California will be holding a contest to honor the best band as voted by Tournament of Roses Parade watchers on January 1, starting at 1 p.m. EST. Show your pride in the Pride of the Mountains and vote WCU here.

Tournament of Roses Parade Television Coverage

The Pride of the Mountains was aired on television around Noon EST in the Tournament of Roses Parade, with HGTV and Hallmark Channel first to broadcast the band. Commentators praised the band’s size and their style of playing.

There was quite a difference in the broadcast of the Pride of the Mountains overall. ABC mispronounced Cullowhee, Hallmark referenced Western Carolina as West Carolina and NBC skipped over the band altogether. HGTV pronounced everything correctly. Local T.V. affiliate KTLA in California aired the band around 12:05 p.m. EST and talked more about the band’s credentials than the other networks.

If you missed the band’s appearance, Hallmark is airing a reply at 1 p.m. EST and we will upload some clips and pictures later today.

Day in Review – December 31

The Pride of the Mountains got to sleep in a little later today with wake up call being around 6:30 a.m. PST and breakfast and meetings following. The band kicked off their New Year’s Eve, which was to be a relaxed one before their big day at the Tournament of Roses Parade on Saturday, with a visit to a beach in Santa Monica around 9:30 a.m. PST.

The band spent about three hours in Santa Monica taking in the sun, swimming in the Pacific Ocean and having lunch at a restaurant of their choosing, with many members choosing Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Following the beach visit, the Pride of the Mountains headed to Los Angeles to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum at The Getty Center, arriving around 1 p.m. PST. The Getty Center presents the Getty’s collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present against a backdrop of dramatic architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views.

The band left The Getty Center a little after 4 p.m. PST  to return to their hotel for leisure time and dinner. They had the option of chicken and pasta and salad at the hotel or go to a nearby restaurant. At 8 p.m. PST, the band had a New Year’s Eve party. They celebrated the beginning of 2011 at 9 p.m. PST when the clock striked midnight on the East Coast in order to be prepared for a 4:15 a.m. PST wake-up call on Saturday before the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Best way to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade

The 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade begins at 11 a.m. EST, 8 a.m. PST, on New Year’s Day. The best channel to watch the parade will be HGTV (Home and Garden) because they do not show commercials. The Pride of the Mountains is scheduled to appear 49th in the parade. Band directors predict the group will be on TV about 11:45 a.m. EST.

Did you know?

The Pride of the Mountains are known as the “Best Damn Band Anywhere”. WCU Chancellor Dr. John W. Bardo coined the slogan to set the Pride of the Mountains apart from his Alma Mater’s band, Ohio State University, who is known as the “Best Damn Band in the Land”. Any time Dr. Bardo is with the Pride of the Mountains, he asks “What band is this?” and the band responds with the “Best Damn Band Anywhere!”, after which Dr. Bardo belts “And don’t you forget it!”.

Day in Review – December 30

The Pride of the Mountain’s day started early with many band members waking up before 5 a.m. PST and the entire group enjoyed breakfast at the hotel at 5:30 a.m. PST. Following breakfast and meetings, the band traveled to the Rose Bowl to have their official Tournament of Roses portrait taken.

After having their portrait taken, the band traveled to Pasadena City College to warm up for their performance at Tournament of Roses BandFest. At 12:00 p.m. PST, the Pride of the Mountains took the football field to perform their 2010 Field Show “Rock U” and blew everyone in attendance away, garnering a “Holy Cow!” from the Master of Ceremonies speaker and a standing ovation. Many people also watched the band via a live webcast and chimed in on Facebook and Twitter to send their well wishes and congratulatory messages to the band.

A clipping of the show can be found here.

After the BandFest performance, the band trooped the stands with a pass and review and had lunch catered to them by In N Out. Hamburgers, chips, butterfingers and sodas were provided.

When heading to the buses, the family of the the late Dallas Cook of California and Cook’s high school band director, Gregg Gilboe, came to meet the band. The Pride of the Mountains will perform “You” by Suburban Legends in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1 in honor of Cook, who helped write the song and was a member of Suburban Legends. After Cook’s death, the ska band held a fundraiser in Cook’s honor that benefited his high school band at Huntington Beach High School since Cook credited much of his passion for music to his experience in the marching band. WCU band directors said they selected “You” to perform in the Rose Parade because they were inspired by Cook’s life and by Suburban Legends’ tribute to him and want to send the message through their performance at the Rose Parade of a shared love for marching band from the East Coast to West Coast.

After leaving Pasadena City College, the band visited the Tournament of Roses Parade float construction tents in Pasadena and traveled to Los Angeles to take in the sights and stroll Hollywood Blvd. The Pride of the Mountains concluded the day with a group meeting a little after 6 p.m. PST, after which the band members were free to go to a restaurant of their choosing for dinner and leisurely spend the night before curfew.