Rose Parade welcomes Niceville band
Many bands from around the world have stretched their wallets to perform in the 2017 Tournament of Roses, but only Niceville High School band program can claim to have sold a whopping 64,000 chocolate bars to fund their trip to Southern California.
“We have quite the cottage industry set up,” joked Band Director Dan Wooten. For Wooten, having to sell chocolate bars to pay for the opportunity to come to Pasadena is a small sacrifice.
After all, 2017 won’t be the first time he takes the band to Pasadena. They marched in the parade in 2008, and Wooten still remembers it as one of the highlights of his 35-year career.
Niceville, a town of 14,000 in the heart of Florida’s panhandle, has also sent its high school marching band to venues like the 2004 Cotton Bowl and the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But Wooten believes corporate events don’t hold a candle to the Rose Parade. The way he sees it the Rose Parade is a community celebration.
Drum Major Meredith Freeman will be leading Niceville’s band, and her Rose Parade experiences revolve around community. Watching it with her family is something of a tradition, and her family also hosted a pancake breakfast last year during the parade. She’s committed to taking full advantage of the stage Pasadena offers once a year.
“I hope we just make a lot of really great memories,” Freeman said.
But although they love the big audiences, Wooten also said that this could be the last time we see Niceville in Pasadena for quite some time. The director is approaching retirement, so this performance could serve as a swan song for the Rose Parade regulars until he passes the torch.
But although it could be his last, Wooten is still committed to giving the Parade everything Niceville has to offer.
“It’ll be once in a lifetime for most of these kids to do something of this nature,” Wooten said. “The kids kinda feel like rock stars!”