Rose Bowl-bound AOB receives rousing send-off from community as members depart for California

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 arrives at the Performing Arts Center in the early hours Tuesday morning to personally bid band members farewell as they board buses for the airport. She flew out to California the next morning to join the students. (photo by Andre Bean)

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.” 

AOB members board the plane at Nashville International Airport for their flight to California. (Photo by Andre Bean)

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.

Director of Bands, Dr Reginald McDonald, left, gives band members a final pep talk as they prepare to depart for their California trip. (Photo by Andre Bean)

“”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.  

President Glover and Band Director McDonald talk to the media, as other TSU officials and supporters watch. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

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.” 

Band members celebrate as they prepare to leave for the 133rd Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Andre Bean)

“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.

Department of Media Relations

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