A small-town Missouri teen is talking about when all eyes were on him at Tuesday's Rose Bowl Parade.
Izaya Wittler is a modest 16-year-old from Savannah, MO. For him, it's hard to imagine growing up in a town of 5,000 and then, for one day, performing in front of a crowd of 700,000, not including the people watching the parade on TV.
But Izaya's standout talent took him from marching on his high school football field all the way to Pasadena, CA, marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
"The crowd was huge. It was the biggest crowd I've ever seen in a long time. It was awesome how they were watching me," he said. "It was electrifying."
Izaya's the smallest guy in his rank. During the parade, he was in the second row of his marching band, the third tuba player in, and he carried his 50-pound tuba for five miles alongside marching bands from all over the world.
"I can't say I was the youngest one, but I was the shortest one," he said.
Salvation Army leaders nominated Izaya to play in the 180-member Salvation Army Honor Band, comprised of members of amateur bands within the Salvation Army organization, because he is a driven and dedicated, growing musician.
He got noticed through Salvation Army music camps.
"The thing that Izaya won't tell you about is he's very committed. He'll memorize all the songs they want him to play. That dedication and drive is probably what got him chosen," Capt. Chuck Cook with the Salvation Army said.
Izaya said, leading up to the parade, he was eager for the once-in-a-lifetime band experience.
"The crowd was huge. It was the biggest crowd I've seen. It was awesome to know they were watching me," he said.
A Hutchinson, KS, teen also got chosen to be in the band.
Izaya said he hopes he'll be chosen again next year. He wants to use the experience to apply for scholarships to study music in college.
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