February 14, 2024


West Chester University’s “RamBand Road to the Roses ’24” initiative has raised more than $1million to fund travel expenses for the INCOMPARABLE Golden Rams Marching Band to make the 2,675-mile journey to the Golden State. On New Year’s day 2024, WCU’s very own RamBand made history by becoming the first marching band within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to participate in the iconic Rose Parade.RamBand Rose Parade

Transporting the 336-member band, their instruments, and more than 30 University faculty and staff members to Pasadena for this once-in-a-lifetime experience was no small feat and required a true community effort. Launched in November 2022, the fundraising initiative was anchored by a $100,000 matching gift challenge from Dr. James Wells ’54 and Richard G. Wells ’58, namesakes for West Chester’s School of Music.

“The band’s students, who represent more than 60 majors, are a constant source of WCU pride,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino, “as they simultaneously juggle their courseloads with a demanding practice schedule. We are thrilled that they earned this coveted opportunity that brings worldwide recognition to West Chester University, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

An annual tradition for more than 130 years, the Rose Parade has a television viewership of more than 25 million people and a live attendance of about 700,000. The momentous occasion was captured by Good Morning America (West Coast), 6abc Action News, and CBS3 Philadelphia, in addition to full parade coverage by KTLA5.

“We are expected to push ourselves and each other so that each person who sees us perform gets a worthy show,” said Devon Palmeter, a Class of 2023 chemistry major with minors in dance and Spanish, and a member of the Color Guard. “Not only did the field show and various parades need to be near perfect here on the East Coast, they needed to be just as good, if not better, on the West Coast. Everything that we had been working endlessly towards all season, and everything that those before us had accomplished, was put on display in Pasadena.”

Spectators in the stands and those watching at home saw the band’s new uniforms that feature a purple and gold rose design. The “new look” was made possible in part by a six-figure donation from Student Services, Incorporated, the nonprofit organization designed to serve the students of West Chester University.

This year’s parade theme was “Celebrating a World of Music”, and the band played the “Theme for Rocky,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” and the “Liberty Bell March.” As part of the festivities, the band was invited to perform a field show at the Tournament of Rose’s 43rd Annual BandFest at Pasadena City College, and marched down Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park in a smaller celebratory parade.

Anna Gutzler, a junior studying music education at West Chester University and drum major in the band, said, “What made this experience especially rewarding was the fact that my parents, grandparents, and sister were able to watch the parade in person. Although the viewers only see the final product, the band members and staff know the countless hours of hard work and preparation it took for us to get to that moment. Throughout the entire trip, I was beaming with pride and gratitude.”

Peak Group Travel, a student travel company owned and operated by Bruce Rickert ’86, facilitated a trip for more than 300 friends, family members, and Ram Fans who enthusiastically cheered during the march down Colorado Boulevard. These fans included members of the Bands Alumni Chapter of the WCU Alumni Association. Founded in 2012, the chapter has more than 700 members, performs at football games during Homecoming Weekend, and supports the “Sixth Man” Basketball Band at home games. This past December, the Peak Group Travel donated the remaining $16,000 to reach the one-million-dollar goal.

More than 1,400 donors, including alumni, faculty, staff, friends, and family contributed to the effort, including students, who rallied the support of friends and family through crowdfunding to “fund a mile” of their trip.

Dean of West Chester University’s Wells School of Music Christopher Hanning said, “Throughout the trip, our engagement with our alumni and band parents let us know how committed they are to our success, and to the University. From all of us in the Wells School of Music, a huge thanks to our donors, our administration, and the WCU Foundation for their INCOMPARABLE support!”

Director of Athletic Bands and WCU Adam Gumble ’05 added, “Thank you for believing in our program and understanding the value that this sort of experience has for Golden Rams past, present, and future. Most of all, we are thankful for your support of this opportunity that allowed West Chester University to shine brightly on the international stage!”

An insider’s look into the history of the band and their yearlong preparations can be found in the January issue of Main Line Today magazine.













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