NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University community gathered in front of the Performing Arts Center in the early hours Tuesday morning to celebrate as the Aristocrat of Bands prepared to depart for the Tournament of Roses in California.
President Glenda Glover, dressed in TSU blue and white, led a large group of cheering university officials, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and fans in a send-off celebration for the nearly 250 band members as they boarded buses for the airport on their way to the 133rd Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 1.
“This is one of the most exciting moments for us and especially in the lives of these students to be able to represent the university at the Rose Bowl,” said Glover, who flew out the next morning to join the students.
“This is so special to represent TSU, the state of Tennessee, and HBCUs. That is just phenomenal. They worked so hard for this. They have earned the right to show the world who they are. So, we are just proud of them.”
Sandra Hunt, president of the Nashville chapter of the TSU National Alumni Association, added: “This is extremely exciting for us as alums from across the nation. Not only that many of us will be glued to the TV watching with pride and cheering, but many will be there in Pasadena.”
The send-off was organized by alumni, staff, students and individuals who provided various support to help make the trip possible. TSU alum and State Rep. Harold Love, Jr., Director of Alumni Relations Debbi Howard; Miss TSU Mallory Moore, TSU Chief of Staff, Dr. Curtis Johnson; and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Stevenson were among those at the send-off.
“We’ve always gotten tremendous support from President Glover, the university, alumni, the community and the fans, so this is just another example of that support,” Director of Bands, Dr. Reginald McDonald, said.
“”It’s a great feeling that our supporters came out and showed us love before we set out for California,” added Tiara Thomas, student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees, who plays the French horn in the band.
The AOB, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, is one of only four university bands nationwide invited to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade this year. TSU is also the only band from a historically black college or university (HBCU) that will be performing.
Termed the “West Coast swing,” the AOB’s California visit also includes performances at Bandfest, a two-day exclusive field show for marching bands selected to participate in the Rose Bowl Parade; Disneyland Park; the California African American Museum; as well as a half-time show for the Los Angeles Lakers in the Staples Center.
Travion Crutcher, head drum major of the AOB, said he is looking forward to performing in the Rose Bowl, but also “experiencing Hollywood from up close.”
“I am looking forward to experiencing in person what I see on TV shows and movies,” said Crutcher, a senior electrical engineering major from Huntsville, Alabama. “I am looking forward to embracing the culture in that part of the US.”
California is home to one of the largest concentrations of TSU alumni. Many are expected to attend the Rose Bowl Parade, while others, including fans from across the nation, are flying in to cheer for their “beloved AOB.”
Featured photo by Andre Bean
Dozens of OAB supporters, including students, staff, alumni and fans gather by a busload of band members to say good bye as the students prepare for the early morning ride to the airport, on their way to the Tournament of Roses in California.
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About Tennessee State University
Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.