Pulaski band smelling the roses again

Red Raiders making 3rd trip to Pasadena
By: 

Brady Van Deurzen, news@wolfrivermedia.com


Leader Photo by Brady Van Deurzen Brad Ratliff, president of the Tournament of Roses, plays the trumpet alongside the Pulaski High School marching band Saturday at the Pulaski Polka Fest grounds. Ratliff was in town to formally invite the band to participate in the 2017 Roses parade on Jan. 2.

Leader Photo by Brady Van Deurzen Brad Ratliff, president of the Tournament of Roses, and his wife, Susan Ratliff, have been promoting the Tournament of Roses parade all summer long on their travels across the U.S. to visit communities that will be represented Jan. 2 at the annual parade in Pasadena, California.

The Pulaski High School marching band serenaded the Tournament of Roses parade president Saturday at Pulaski Polka Days.

In return, Brad Ratliff, president of the Tournament of Roses, could not resist the urge to perform alongside the band.

“I really enjoyed playing with the band,” said Ratliff, who said he grew up playing the trumpet and calls himself a band geek. “It always feels like you’re in band class again.”

Ratliff has been on the Tournament of Roses committee for 28 years. He has helped select acts from all over the world to participate in the New Year’s parade, so he is a good judge of talent.

He said the Red Raider band, which will make its third appearance in the Rose Bowl parade in January, is on a higher level.

“They are one of the best bands around,” Ratliff said. “They always perform extremely well, and they are always exciting to watch.

“Pasadena really has gotten to know Pulaski. They know what to expect from them and they always love how they perform.”

The Tournament of Roses music committee, which consists of over 30 members, only allows bands to apply for the parade every five years. Criteria include musicianship, marching ability and entertainment or special interest value.

According to Ratliff, the five-year policy is to “keep the parade fresh.” He said that if not for the policy, the Pulaski band would be an annual selection.

Twenty-one marching bands will participate in the 2017 Rose Parade on Jan. 2. The bands come from across the United States as well as from Japan and Mexico.

In addition to marching in the 5 1/2-mile parade route, bands also perform in one of three Bandfest events scheduled for Dec. 30-31 at Pasadena City College.

After playing with the band Saturday, Ratliff formally extended the Tournament of Roses invitation to Tom Busch, PHS band director.

“Obviously I am very proud of the kids and for the program in general,” Busch said. “The fact that we have been there twice already is just awesome, and to be returning for a third time is even cooler.”

Busch has been the band director at Pulaski for 17 years and is proud of the band’s reputation.

“The kids that have gone before them kept a strong standard and we like to keep it high and strong,” Busch said. “Our standard is like a GPA, if you drop it, it is hard to get it back up, and we don’t want to drop it.”

Ratliff said that he is eager to see the band again in Pasadena.

“I am excited to see them play because I get to see all the hard work that they put into their work,” he said. “I am looking forward to it.”

Although he has seen the band before, Ratliff, who attended Polka Days with his wife, Susan, saw Pulaski for the first time Saturday. He said he immediately noticed the “easy-going people and the comfortable, community-oriented people” and their support of the band.