Bulldog Marching Band trains, supporters crowdfund in preparation for Rose Parade

Assistant drum major Kristine Kemmer will travel with the Bulldog Marching Band to the Rose Parade in Pasadena for New Year’s and to Dublin, Ireland, for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March 2023. (Aidan Garaygordobil/The Collegian)

Fresno State Bulldog Marching Band (BMB) members will celebrate New Year’s in Pasadena when they travel to participate in the Rose Parade for the first time in program history on Jan. 2, 2023.

It’s not the first nor last trip for many members who recently traveled to the football game against the University of Southern California and may be journeying to Dublin, Ireland, in March 2023 to perform in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

To make the trip to the Rose Parade more affordable for the band’s 290 members, its supporters both on and off campus are rallying behind it.

Fresno State Crowdfunding launched a 30-day online campaign on Sept. 1 to raise $35,000 to help “feed the band,” as multiple social media platforms advertised. 

Friends of the Bulldog Marching Band (FoBMB), a group consisting of parents, supporters and alumni of the BMB, agreed to match all gifts up to $3,000 dollar-for-dollar for the campaign as well.

By Monday the BMB had reached 85% of its $35,000 goal through the gifts of 185 donors, totaling $30,045. The campaign concludes on Friday, Sept. 30.

The trip is being largely funded by the university. Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said he authorized funds from his budget to support the band’s trip and is planning to see it perform live in Pasadena next year. 

He emphasized the BMB’s achievements as well as its symbolism on campus in prompting the financial support.

“They exemplify belonging and ownership of Fresno State at a granular level, and in doing so, they model for the rest of the campus what it means to be a proud Bulldog for life,” Jiménez-Sandoval said.

He has been a longtime supporter of the band and helped fund previous band trips, according to drum major Nicholas Johnson. Johnson also said the president helped them in their most recent trip to the USC game.

“[Jiménez-Sandoval] was the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and we worked alongside him so much and he was so supportive when he was in the department. So it’s really cool that I think he’s really opened the eyes of what we need and really listened to us and what we’ve asked for to make [this] happen,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that not worrying about costs gives the students extra time to focus on what will be the main challenge of the Rose Parade: the physically demanding 5½-mile march.

The band is working with the Kinesiology Department to help develop the necessary endurance for the route, according to assistant drum major Kristine Kemmer. The department created exercise plans for the students and will collect data from these plans, she said.  

“We also do what’s called breathing gym, which is exercising your lungs so that you can really perform to the best of your ability and play well, like really breathe through it,” Kemmer said. “It really makes us stronger, and it’s super important that we do both of those to prepare.”

Johnson said the collaboration with other departments is new but crucial in building the necessary endurance for the march.

“I mean, just keeping your horn up for a while hurts, you know? So it’s good that we’re doing [this] and that everyone is having a good, positive attitude about it,” he said.

The 134th Rose Parade will be held in Pasadena on Jan. 2, 2023. BMB supporters have until Friday, Sept. 30, to donate to crowdfunding efforts in preparation. 

Supporters who donate over $1,000 will receive a photo of their name spelled out by the band members, according to Kemmer. Multiple donors have already given the necessary amount to obtain such a photo.

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