By Connie and Lynn Baer
Grossmont High School (GHS) band students have a history of accomplishments, both past and present.
The school band has appeared three times in the Tournament of Roses Parade as representatives of San Diego County: in 1953 and 1954 under the direction of Harold Lutz, and in 1961 under the direction of Jim Nichols. Both of these legendary band directors challenged their students to achieve perfection in their performances.
Grossmont’s first Rose Parade appearance in 1953 is documented in the school newspaper, The Foothill Echoes, in an article which reveals that “they have been invited several times before, but this is the first time they’ve accepted.”
The band played, “The Thunder,” “V Is for Victory,” and “King Cotton,” during the five and half mile parade. The band departed Grossmont at 1 a.m. to be ready to march in Pasadena at 8 a.m.
Former band member Joe Framme recalls that he was left guide, front row, and said he believes that director Harold Lutz “defined the standards for high school marching bands for all time. … It was a life defining experience.”
In 1961, according to a local newspaper article, there were “84 GHS band members and drum major Joe Fannin, who were preceded by 9 girls carrying banners which spelled out ‘Grossmont,’ marching to ‘Men of Music’ by Karl King. During the pre-parade judging, three GHS band members fainted and were replaced from the pool of 19 alternates. The GHS Blue and Gold Specialty Corps, directed by Miss Rosemary Redditt, followed the band” and had 53 members of the Pom Pom Corps and 22 members of the Flag Corps.
In the Museum collection, thanks to Class of 1964 alumnus Bill Hoffman, we have one of the medals given to each 1961 Rose Parade participant that year as well as the 72nd Annual Tournament of Roses Parade complimentary program; a third of the way through the program is listed “Grossmont High School Band (San Diego).”
“It was a honor to represent our school and the city in 1961,” recalls Ken Carson, Class of 1963. “We each received a commemorative medal for marching in the parade, and it’s a memory I talk about periodically, especially on New Year’s Day.”
This year, Grossmont’s Royal Blue Regiment Band has completed a successful fall competition season. Crowning their season was a first-place win at the Chula Vista Field Tournament with the Color Guard winning second place.
“The future is bright for the Royal Blue Regiment and we can’t wait to see how the band does in the future,” said James Llamas, who is now in his fourth year as GHS band director.
The band welcomes your financial support as they fundraise for the band and color guard to perform in the spring at Disneyland.
“The band has made huge strides in the last four years, and these kids have not had a trip to Disneyland yet,” Llamas said. “We have arranged a trip to Disneyland this March, but it’s looking like we may not be able to afford it. We want to take all 95 members in the band, orchestra, and color guard on this trip.”
To make this trip a reality, please visit their website at bit.ly/1OkvxCN to donate via Pay Pal. You may also write a check payable to Grossmont Instrumental Music Association and mail to GHS Band, Attn: James Llamas, 1100 Murray Drive, El Cajon, CA 92020. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
To hear the band in person, join them for their Winter Concert, Jan. 12, 2016, at 7 p.m. in the GHS Old Gym. The concert will feature both the band and the orchestra.
GHS Museum hours: Noon – 4 p.m. Jan. 6, or by appointment. Contact the museum by phone at 619-668-6140, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website at foothillermuseum.com.
––Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the GHS Museum.