It’s official. The Bulldog Marching Band has exceeded its fundraising goals, and they are headed to the 2023 Rose Parade! A year ago, the Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band was selected by the Tournament of Roses Association as an official participant in the Rose Parade on Jan. 2. This will be the band’s first Rose Parade appearance in program history.
“The parade is going to be very, very fun. I’m really looking forward to the whole experience,” said Dennis Posey, assistant drum major from Taft, Calif. “The Fresno State Marching Band has never done this parade before, and there’s not a lot of people from my hometown that can say they have done it.”
“It’s a national and international stage,” added Director of Alumni Connections Peter Robertson, Fresno State Alumni Association. “Everyone is watching across the world, and it really elevates the marching band, and with the marching band, Fresno State is elevated as well.”
Yet participating in the Rose Parade had seemed out of reach to Associate Professor Steve McKeithen, Director of the Bulldog Marching Band.
“I’ve never really considered doing the Rose Parade because of the financial part of it. I didn’t think it was fair to the students to say, ‘Hey, we’re in this massive parade; you all have to do it, and you all have to pay $800,’” said McKeithen. “I didn’t think that was reasonable.”
McKeithen said Dean Honora Chapman encouraged him to apply for the parade and was confident they would find the funding. Growing up in Pasadena, she had watched the parade with hundreds of thousands lining the boulevards every year and knew that the Rose Parade reached a television audience of millions around the world, making it a wonderful way to showcase Fresno State’s talented students.
“Right after the pandemic shutdown in 2020, Steve demonstrated tremendous dedication and ingenuity when he safely created a compelling application package for the Tournament of Roses, which produces the Rose Parade. This included producing a video that proved that the Marching Band can make the big turn at the beginning of the parade while staying aligned and playing their music as well as they do on the field,” Chapman said. “We’re so proud of our student musicians from many majors who will represent Fresno State to the world, and we’re grateful to President Jiménez-Sandoval and all the community members who have made this amazing experience possible.”
Being selected was just the first step. The band also needed to raise the money to send band members, support staff, instruments and equipment to Pasadena for four days.
“Food, rooming, buses, stuff. Everything is a challenge when you’re talking about almost 300 people from point A to point B,” said McKeithen. “Logistics are always a challenge for a big group. But we have systems in place, and it’s not our first time traveling, so we know what to do.”
It is also expensive. McKeithen felt it was essential that the trip was fully funded and students would not have to cover any of the costs themselves.
President Jiménez-Sandoval had committed a large portion of the funds needed for the trip, but the Marching Band needed a bit more. In collaboration with the College of Arts and Humanities, the Fresno State Alumni Association put together an engaging and effective fundraising campaign.
“Our goal was to raise $35,000 in the month of September. So we launched a one-month online campaign,” said Director of Alumni Connections Peter Robertson. “In the last week of the campaign, we hit our goal. By the end of the campaign, we had raised $43,000.”
“It was pretty overwhelming to see that goal reached and even surpassed,” said McKeithen.
Robertson expressed his thanks to the donors who participated in the campaign. Donations are still being accepted by emailing Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our success is the reflection of the support you have given to our Bulldog Marching Band,” said Robertson. “These students are going to go to Pasadena representing our campus with a worldwide audience.”
The Rose Parade is from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2, in Pasadena, Calif and televised live on ABC, NBC and Univision.
Also part of the Tournament of Roses, the band will perform in the “Bandfest” field show on Dec. 30-31, showcasing the Bulldog Marching Band’s musicianship and pageantry. The final schedule for Bandfest has not yet been announced.
The Bulldogs represent the State of California as the largest college marching band of its kind, having been recognized by the College Band Directors National Association as one of the top eight college marching bands in the country. The 270-member Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band is the largest student organization on campus, with members representing all eight of the schools and colleges on campus comprised of a diverse group of students from all over California, the United States and the world.
“The Best Band in the West” has performed at five bowl games and two NFL games in the last decade. It was featured in the launch of Just Dance 2019, the 2018 E3 Expo and has been invited to perform in the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, with nine other marching bands from the Mountain West Conference.