Talk about moving fast, Derek Castellano was given little time to pull off the feat.
Castellano was presented the monumental task of putting together the city’s first band for what’s now known as the Festival of Balloons Parade on the Fourth of July in South Pasadena.
In one week as the days were counting down on Independence Day, Castellano pulled off the feat in what must have seemed like a minute, thus coming up with the name “Minutemen Band” that has played in the city’s annual event since 1982.
“You can’t have a parade without a band,” said an amused Ted Shaw, South Pasadena’s mayor at the time and key organizer of the city’s initial 4th of July event. “It’s amazing how quickly it came together.”
The Minutemen Band performed during the opening ceremonies and down the parade route to the delight of those turning out for South Pasadena’s first Fourth of July celebration. As a result of coming together in what must of felt like a minute, the name “Minutemen” has stuck over the years.
It marks the 30th year in 2019 that Howard Crawford, director of band and orchestra at South Pasadena High School, has led the lively unit that belts out patriotic favorites, including “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Stars and Stripes Forever” and the “Washington Post March,” during the Festival of Balloons’ opening ceremonies, the parade and later in Garfield Park after all the entries have crossed the finish line.
Comprised mainly of SPHS band members, Crawford is quick to point out that anyone with a musical talent can play in the Minutemen Band on the Fourth of July. Participants receive a colorful “Minutemen” t-shirt and plenty of applause down the parade route.
“I’m just carrying on the tradition,” said Crawford, noting he inherited the role and simply wants to keep it rolling. “I’m just glad they have some type of band for the parade.”
Students, he noted, have fun performing down the Mission Street as they play two or three patriotic songs. Alumni get an opportunity to say hello to old friends “hangout, talk” and have a good time.
“It’s just terrific that Howard Crawford has helped us year after year to make the Festival of Balloons a great day in South Pasadena,” said Shaw. “We’re extremely grateful for his and the band’s participation.”
And for coming together 38 years ago in what must have seemed like, well, a minute.