West Coast Composite Band marches in 114th Tournament of Roses Parade

17 Jan 2003 | Cpl. Julie A. Paynter

For Immediate Release, 17 January 03                          Press Release 030117P1

Members of the Combat Center band and the rest of the West Coast Composite Marine Corps Band participated in the 114th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. Jan. 1.

This is the one time each year 1st Marine Division Band, Marine Band San Diego, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band and Marine Corps Band Twentynine Palms unite and create a 114-piece band.  Marine bands have participated in this parade for half a century. 

"I believe it's the oldest parade in the United States," said Cpl. Andrew Coons, trumpet player, Marine Corps Band Twentynine Palms  "It was interesting to see how other Marine Corps bands accomplish their mission compared to the way we accomplish our mission-since all our missions are different."

"I've watched this band evolve over the last 25 years," said Master Gunnery Sgt. Steven Schweitzer, enlisted bandleader, MCB Camp Pendleton.  "As Marines, we all have something to learn from one another, as we all have different backgrounds and experiences."

The four bands practiced for four days at MCRD San Diego prior to the parade.  This year the Combat Center's own, Marine Corps Band Twentynine Palms, coordinated events and provided the West Coast Composite Marine Corps Band with their drum major and band officer.

"It was really motivating to have a band that size.  The power behind the band was insane," said Sgt. Eric Allen, saxophone player, Marine Corps Band Twentynine Palms.  "Over the entire base you could hear us rehearse."

Allen, Coons and Schweitzer agreed putting together a band as large as the West Coast Composite Marine Corps Band was difficult, especially in such little time.

"Every band marches a little different, depending on the style of the drum major," explained Allen.

"Putting together a 114-piece band in a short amount of time is a little different than doing so with the standard 35 pieces that Marine bands usually march," added Schweitzer, a 17-time veteran of the parade.  "Of course, there are commonalities, but multiply the challenges by four!"

Overall, the unity was a success according to the three.

"Any chance to get together with fellow Marines, especially musical ones, is great!" said Schweitzer. "Also what we get back in the way of support and appreciation from the hundreds of thousands of Americans who line the streets in Pasadena can't be experienced anywhere.  There's just something about people standing up and cheering for your unit when you march by."

An estimated one-half billion worldwide television viewers, and a million that lined the sides of the parade route, cheered the Marines on as they passed.

"Every time we would pass by a new crowd, we received a standing ovation," said Allen.

"The audience members were impressed with the spirit and pride and wanted to be a part of it.  That's what the 2003 West Coast Composite Marine Band brought to their country and Corps on New Year's Day," said Schweitzer.  "The American people were proud of their Marines-active, reserve, retired and former.  Mission accomplished in fine fashion."

Headquarters Marine Corps