Future Reflections Fall 1991

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MY TRIP WITH THE PATRIOTS TO THE TOURNAMENT OF ROSES

by Rebecca Hart

Editor's Note: This article was submitted just before the 1991 school year ended last spring. At that time Rebecca Hart (who is totally blind) was 12 years old and a sixth grader at Keene Mill School. Rebecca is interested in corresponding with other blind students in Braille or on cassette. Her address is 7902 Harwood Place, Springfield, Virginia 22152.

I just finished the two most tiring, but exciting, two weeks of my life. I am in a Colonial Fife and Drum Corps called the Patriots. Mr. and Mrs. Evans, the band leaders, have been trying to get into the Tournament of Roses Parade for 17 years and finally they made it. I joined in January of 1989. I got asked to go on April 22, 1990.

This is an average parade year. It begins with the St. Patrick's Day Parade in March; the Apple Blossom and the Memorial Day Parades in May; the Fourth of July Parade; an overnight trip and parade during the summer; the Labor Day Parade in September; the Halloween Parade in October; the Brunswick Parade in November; and the Christmas Parade in December. We have three practices a year which are about an hour and a half to three hours long. We also have our weekly music or drum lessons.

Getting ready for the Tournament of Roses was different. To begin with, the Rose Bowl crew had to stay at practice two hours after everyone else had gone. We had practices every Sunday in July, plus a few more after school started. It was OK, though, because everybody got to meet everybody else who was going. I should probably say here that there are 500 members in the Patriots, but only 175 went to California with 30 chaperons. When I was asked to go to the Tournament of Roses Parade it did not hit me until later what I was going to do. What I mean is that I did not know that the Tournament of Roses Parade was the biggest parade in the world.

When I march I carry Big Flag with seven other girls. It is also called the Colonial Colors. There are four poles on the flag and it takes two girls to carry each pole. The poles are threaded through the flag and we carry the flag like it is lying down. When I first started in the Patriots I was on a banner with one or two other people. Then after my first year I asked Mrs. Evans if I could be on Big Flag, and she said yes.

During the first couple practices, when it was time for a break, my hands were shaking because I had been carrying the flag so long. In August the Big Flag girls had to go to practices with the fifers where we practiced marching. In November we had to march five and a half miles to prove that we could do it (the Tournament of Roses Parade route is five and one half miles long). We only had to do this once. On December 16 we had our last practice before leaving for California. There were reporters there, and I was interviewed along with some other people. That night I was on the news at 11:30.

I couldn't believe it! It was finally Christmas Day and the day we were going to leave. We opened our presents early as we do every year, but then we had to get ready to leave. We left Union Station in Washington at 4 p.m. Going from Washington to Chicago took about fourteen hours so obviously we were on the train overnight. We slept in our seats. The first night on the train I went up to the observation car with other Patriots. Later that night, when I went to the bathroom to wash my face, the train stopped and the water was turned off. I had to stay in the bathroom for twenty minutes with green junk on my face!

When we got to Chicago we had an eight-hour layover. A layover is the period from when one train gets to the station until the other one leaves. During the layover we took a bus to Fort Sheridan. We went to the gym first. There were showers, and we all got to take one. After touring Fort Sheridan we got back on a different train to go to California.

The train from Chicago to California was a double-decker train. I was upstairs in one of the cars. The people who were upstairs had to go downstairs to get to the bathroom. From Chicago to California you have to cross high mountains. The only reason I mention this is because a couple of times we got up so high some soft drinks exploded.

The day we arrived in California I had breakfast with my Mom in the dining car. I had been getting food at the lounge car or eating some food that my Mom and Dad packed because I was not very hungry. I was too excited to eat. When my Mom said that we were in California I wanted to jump up and cheer, but of course I didn't.

We got to Los Angeles at about 8:30 in the morning. When we got to the train station we took our carry-on bags and our suitcases to the buses. We also had to get all our equipment, like drums, flags, and poles on the buses. Then we went to LaBrea Tar Pits. There we watched a video of the animals that had gotten stuck in the tar and we looked around the museum. Then we went to our motel. I don't think anybody could wait to take a shower. I couldn't!

On Saturday we went to Universal Studios. We got up and had breakfast in the motel and then we left. When we got to Universal Studios I went around with Sarah and Amy Sterner and Bradee Haskins. We saw some scenes from movies and we saw how they made movies. It was really neat. But we had to leave at 5:15 so we could go decorate floats. My dad and I braided straw for the Sea World Float. Then I glued some flowers on the Purple People Eater, and I put some flowers on the medallion for Museum. We worked from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m,. but it was fun. On Sunday we went to Disney Land. That day I went around with Sarah, Amy, and Bradee again, and new friend Rayni Bonchu. We went on just about every ride there. And then we went back and did our favorites. My favorite was Space Mountain.

On Monday we went to Knott's Berry Farm. This is another amusement park. I went around with my sister Abby, Lara Long, and Helena Faws. This amusement park had a lot of roller coasters. We went on a parachute ride where you stand in a little basket and when you get up to the top you're dropped down. Then we went on a ride that went from side to side and kept getting higher like a pendulum. Then we went on the swings and on another ride that was like the pendulum but went forward and backward. I should probably say now that I like to ride rides with my hands above my head.

We had to leave Knott's Berry Farm because Mr. and Mrs. Evans wanted us to be awake for the Rose Bowl, which was the next day.

The parade started at about 8 a.m. California time. We were unit 78. Before we started marching we each got some candy from the Evans' to get our blood sugar high. As I said before, the parade route was five and a half miles long, but it did not seem like it because people were saying "Hi" and "Happy New Year" and things like that. I was kind of nervous when we were in front of the cameras, but I did fine. Some time later along the parade route someone yelled "Hi Becky Hart," but I do not know who it was.I think the hardest part of the parade was marking time. That is when you march in place, and it is tiring because you build up this kind of rhythm and it is almost painful to stop. Once when we were marking time a parade official sprayed me in the face with water. He thought I looked "out of it". He did not know I was blind. When he found out he felt bad. But I was not startled; it felt good. I was the only one who was cool after that.

At the end of the parade route there was a sign that said "Hello Miss Hart Welcome". It really was for my sister and me, but they did not know our first names. They knew our Dad. At the end of the parade route we got some food and some soda, then we went back to the motel.

That afternoon I went swimming. The motel had a pool and a hot tub, and while I was in the hot tub I talked to some girls. We wished we could miss the train on Thursday. That night we went to Medieval Times. We pretended it was 1093. We ate dinner with our hands because silverware was not invented yet. Then we watched the knights perform.

On Wednesday we went to the San Diego Zoo and to the Pacific Ocean. I liked the Pacific Ocean better than the Zoo but actually I liked everything about the trip. When we got to the Pacific Ocean I went around with my parents. We walked along the board walk and went into a few shops. Then we talked to Mrs. Evans and I asked her if I could miss the train the next day but unfortunately she said "No". After that my Mom, Dad, and I took a horse-drawn carriage ride next to the water. Because there was not any beach we could not go touch the water, but it was fun. Then we had dinner in a restaurant. When we got back to the motel I went to Sarah, Amy, and Bradee's room and partied. It was a great way to end the trip.

It was a wonderful trip. I hope I will get to do this some time again soon.

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