• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Blind marching band to debut at Rose Parade

December 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Among the participants in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena you can always find a number of bands. But this year, for the first time in the parade's history, a band of blind musicians will march.

With three days to go until New Year's Day, band members like Sam Shepherd are working to get the kinks out.

"Can't wait for Friday though. Friday, this is what we've been working for this year," said Shepherd.

His school's marching band will be one of only a select few handpicked to perform in the Rose Parade -- and they'll do it completely blind.

The 32-member marching band from the Ohio State School for the Blind is the only blind marching band in the country. They hail from Columbus, Ohio. Freshly flown in this week, they've been practicing their Rose Bowl routine at Diamond Bar High School. Each member will march with a marching assistant guiding them down Colorado Boulevard's 5-mile stretch.

"I just get behind Marty and push him on and he does it, he does what he has to do and he does it, they all do," said marching assistant Eunice Penrod.

Penrod is her grandson's guide and she says the kids pretty much have this down to a science. In fact, parents like Paula Shepherd say it's the marching assistants who will have the biggest butterflies come New Year's Day.

"For those of us who have who have sight, it's nerve-racking," said Shepherd. "For the kids, they have no stage fright, so this is -- they're excited, they get pumped when they hear how large the crowds are."

The band has had plenty of practice. Together since 2005, they've benefitted from annual summer sessions at Ohio State University with the Buckeyes teaching them different steps and techniques.

The kids took a rare break at Diamond Bar High School Tuesday -- rare because since they found out 14 months ago they were going to be in this Friday's Rose Parade, it has been nonstop practice.

"One of my favorite things is 'Let's do it one more time,' 'Let's do it again so it looks right and it sounds right,'" said the band's co-director, Dan Kelley.

From field practice and marching to music rehearsals and sound logistics, this talented group of high-schoolers is looking to impress and inspire an international audience.


Load Comments