In 2020, the Dobyns-Bennett High School band from Kingsport, Tennessee, will make its fourth appearance in the Rose Parade. The group had received a surprise invitation during the Bands of America (BOA) Grand National Championships awards ceremony in November 2018. Dobyns-Bennett had finished 10th overall at BOA.
“[We’re] especially proud of our students because of the way they received the invitation,” says Lafe Cook, director of bands at Dobyns-Bennett High School. “The kids earned this invitation based on a single performance [at the Grand National Finals], and I think that’s especially meaningful.”
Each year since 2010, members of the Tournament of Roses leadership team have attended Grand Nationals to watch bands compete, and one group is selected to participate in a future Rose Parade. Normally, bands undergo a rigorous application process. Because of the band’s previous appearances, the Rose Parade is “an iconic experience for a kid in Kingsport, Tennessee, because they’ve been hearing about it for many, many years,” Cook says. “So I think that [creates] an additional level of excitement for our kids.”