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Called up to the big show

Jackson Bell

Ashley Cunliffe isn’t at all concerned about the millions of eyes

that will be glued to her every move on New Year’s Day.

In fact, Ashley welcomes the attention she’ll receive for playing


her French horn during the 115th Rose Parade in Pasadena on Thursday.

“I’m not nervous at all,” she said this week. “I’m more excited

because I know people are there to encourage me and watch me. It’ll

be a lot of fun.”


Ashley, 17, will be among seven members of the Burbank High School

marching band selected to perform in the parade along with the

Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band.

In addition to Ashley, fellow Burbank High students Matt Benson,

James Brittain, Charlie Lilly, Justin Milota, Chris Newton and

Stephen Oakley will march in the parade with about 120 students from

about 90 high schools as far away as Ramona, Victorville and



Dean Immel, Burbank High School’s instrumental music director,

said the seven students are the most from Burbank High to participate

in the honor band at one time.

“They’re good musicians and reliable kids, and every one of them I

give my wholehearted support to,” Immel said. “Every year, we have a

few outstanding students, and each one of these kids is outstanding.”

Matt, a 15-year-old freshman who plays the tuba, has practiced

with the PCC band every Sunday since October and daily since


Christmas Day. He said the training, which includes seven hours a

week at home, has paid off.

“One day, I hope to attend USC and [perform in] its marching band,

so this experience will hopefully get me ready for that,” Matt said.

James Arnwine, the director of bands at Pasadena City College,

said the school’s 80-student marching band relies on the additional

high school students to reach a size appropriate for the Rose Parade.

And Burbank High School, Arnwine added, was among the schools

contributing the highest number of students to this year’s honor


“It shows that [Burbank High School] is a good school and they

have outstanding students,” he said. “I hope they learn a lot as well

as uplift their schools from this traditional experience.”

Charlie, a junior trombonist who performed with the band in last

year’s parade, said the best advice he can give his fellow performers

is to pace themselves during the 5 1/2 mile march, which takes about

two hours.

“It was tough, walking and playing in the whole parade,” he said.

“But in the end, it felt really good to make it.”