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The Pride of Eastside performs in Hollywood Christmas Parade

The Pride of Eastside Marching Band joined the likes of Larry King, Olivia Newton-John and Bill Engvall this past weekend, during the 85th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade in Hollywood, California.

The Eastside High School students and the band’s support staff brought the Hollywood of the South to Hollywood California, performing songs such as the theme from “In the Heat of the Night,” and “Jingle Bell Jam”.

It was the first performance in the parade for the Pride of Eastside Marching Band, which brought its director, Alan Fowler and 80 band members, including 59 winds, 10 drumline, 9 color guard, and two drum majors.

The trip has been in the works since Fowler learned TPOE had been selected to participate shortly after Christmas 2014.

“It’s long been important for me to take kids places,” said Fowler. “There is nothing like seeing the world through the eyes of kids. I actually had looked for a parade in California 15 years ago and found this one. At the time, they only invited bands of more than 100 students. Over the years, they have adjusted their guidelines and opened the parade up to out-of-state bands of under a hundred that are worthy. We applied and apparently we were deemed worthy.”

Newton County residents may get a chance to see The Pride of Eastside when the parade airs on the CW Network on Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. and on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel on Dec. 21, at 3 p.m., due to the fact that the band stopped to perform “In the Heat of the Night” in front of the cameras.

The 85th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade featured 17 bands from across the country but according to Fowler, not all were afforded the opportunity to stop and play in front of the cameras.

“About a month ago a call went out to see if bands were interested in stopping and playing, and I jumped at the chance,” Fowler explained.

He added that trips such as this provide an incredible opportunity for the students.

“The benefits are immense,” he said. “Not only have most of our kids never been to California, most have never experienced air travel.”

Participating in a parade full of famous celebrities and marching bands from across the country was just a small part of the group’s experience. Even though they flew out Friday and returned Tuesday, the group’s itinerary included a Hollywood coach and walking tour, visits to LA's world famous Original Farmers Market, the Santa Monica Pier, Universal Studios, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the California Science Center. The Pride of Eastside members even had the unique opportunity to watch the new Disney movie, “Mauna” at the El Capitan Theatre.

According to Eastside High School principal, Jeff Cher, the band’s trip to California was well-deserved, and a great way to end their successful season.

“The Pride of Eastside Marching Band is a treasure for our school and community,” said Cher. “They have had a truly memorable marching band season with numerous awards at festivals for their halftime show, “Around the World in 8 Minutes.” I am elated that they were selected for the parade. During the past few years, I have seen glimpses of the hard work that these students, parents, and support staff have invested under the direction of Mr. Fowler. As I watched online, I was so happy to see TPOE displaying true Eagle Pride as they marched down Hollywood Boulevard.”