Last year's invitation to march down Colorado Boulevard as part of the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band was confirmation that Hesperia High junior Megan Almojuela was one of the best prep trumpeters in Southern California. But that experience was a mere prelude to what was to come.

Following her special experience last New Year's morning, Almojuela requested an audition for one of the most revered trumpet opportunities - a chance to become one of just nine Herald Trumpets that march with the top snare drummer directly in front of the Rose Queen and her Royal Court during the annual parade.

More than 100 outstanding high school trumpet players secured audition slots. Weeks after the audition, Almojuela waited to receive the official news in the mail, and finally it came.
"I was very excited," she said. "I wasn't expecting to make Heralds."

But she did.

Last Sunday, Almojuela, one of three girls to play trumpet in the 10-player Scorpion trumpet section, went to her first practice in Pasadena. It also provided an opportunity to test out the unique instrument, which features an extremely long neck.

"I'm looking forward to learning all the fanfares. That will be entertaining to play."

Grueling 6-1/2-mile march
While she is anticipating the parade, which is just slightly over a month-and-a-half away, she also knows the parade isn't for the faint of heart. Staged on a freeway overpass near the parade's start at Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards, last year - as is the case every year - the Honor Band got going way long before the official 8 a.m. start.

"The call time last year was 4:30 in the morning," she said. "It's early."

Marching past the TV cameras, the band members were light on their feet, seemingly gliding down the boulevard. But midway through the six-and-a-half-mile parade route, the march began to take its toll.

"About halfway down Colorado you get really tired."

But once the band turned north on Sierra Madre Boulevard, about a mile from the finish, the mood again changed. The marchers found their legs again.

"You hit an adrenaline rush and you're good to go."

After the parade at Victory Park, Almojuela had a mixture of extreme fatigue and elation. She was glad it was over but proud of the accomplishment.

Almojuela took up trumpet eight years ago and has taken private lessons for seven of those years. Besides marching band, she plays in the jazz band - which she calls "different and it's fun" - and also performs in the concert band. "I pretty much enjoy it all."

Also a piano player and a good student, Almojuela says the key to her success is maintaining focus.

"It requires practice and dedication. You have to be really into what you want to do. I try to make it more of a lifestyle than a hobby."

"She picked it up like a duck takes to water," said her mother, Jody Almojuela, "and she's never put it down."

After high school, Almojuela is planning on majoring in music, perhaps at Biola College, and then becoming a music teacher. That sounds just fine to her parents, who reinforced their childrens' interest in music through the family's involvement in a church music program.
"They were were in the womb hearing music," her mother said. "They had no option but to love music."