Jackson Memorial Jaguar Band’s Road to the Tournament of Roses Parade
By Christa Riddle
Photos By Rich Demczyszyn
The Jackson Memorial Jaguar Band’s journey to the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade started way before Harold “Bud” McCormick, the band’s director, received an invitation to apply for participation in the historic parade of international fame. After Jim Hahn of the Tournament of Roses witnessed an impressive, first-place-winning performance by the band at the 2010 Marine Corps Invitational in Annapolis, Maryland, McCormick received a letter asking if the Jaguars would be interested in applying for the Tournament of Roses Parade, also known as the Rose Parade. McCormick, with the help of the Jackson Memorial Band Parents and staff, diligently completed a 40-page application, compiled videos of three band performances, snapped pictures of each band member in uniform, and collected multiple letters of recommendation; the lengthy process ended in 2011 with acceptance into the 2013 Rose Parade.
As one of only 22 bands chosen from over 400 high school bands, the Jaguars will represent the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States at the upcoming Tournament of Roses. In more than a century of Rose Parades—the first one dates back to 1890—they are the first band solely from New Jersey to march. The Tournament of Roses has become a New Year’s tradition: Each New Year’s Day, millions of international viewers tune in to watch a seemingly endless procession of majestic floats, equestrians, and talented marching bands from around the world. As part of the Tournament of Roses, the Jaguars, one of the largest marching band programs in New Jersey, will also perform at the Bandfest Field Show presentation on December 29th and the Electric Light Parade at Disneyland in Anaheim, California on December 30th.
Over the years, the Jackson Memorial Jaguars Band has earned many accolades contributing to its invitation to perform at the Roses Parade. McCormick, the band’s director since 1983, accepts almost all students into the program who are commitment to music, hard work, and dedication. The band enjoys continued success each year at local, regional, and national competitions and parades. To name just a handful of their extensive accomplishments, in 2011, they clinched the first-place title as New Jersey State Champions, as well as the Cadet Award of Excellence; they also performed in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C. Other honorable performances over the years include multiple New York Giants and New York Yankees championship ticker tape parades, seven World Series, the Today Show for Conan O’Brien’s tenth anniversary special, and opening for Broadway and off-Broadway musicals, as well as winning the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. For its 2012-2013 edition, the JWPepper Music Catalog featured Jaguars band members on its cover and throughout the publication.
“Upon acceptance, the students were ecstatic, as was I,” shares McCormick. “The parade is a remarkable opportunity. They have watched the Roses Parade from their living rooms every New Year’s Day, and now, they have secured a chance to actually march in it. Who would have expected that!”
Band members also shared their excitement over the prestigious invitation. One commented, “As the first marching band solely representing New Jersey, we will stop at nothing to make our home state proud in Pasadena.” Another band member said, “That’s what we are all about—having fun and pouring our hearts and souls into every performance and every moment of life, inspiring others to be extraordinary.”
Although the Jackson Memorial Jaguars have more than earned the amazing experience of performing in the Tournament of Roses, they have also, over the past year, ambitiously faced the challenge of fundraising enough money so that all band members can participate in this lifetime remembrance. Their goal is to raise $300,000 to cover costs such as participation in multiple, tournament-related events, as well as lodging, uniforms, and travel expenses. Beyond the support of the board of education and dedicated band parents, the community has also rallied to help, participating in the band’s fundraisers, including the September calendar raffle; the laptop raffle with winners chosen in August, October, November, and December (the Microsoft Store of Freehold donated four laptops); the ink, toner, and cartridge recycling collection; Market Day food ordering; iGive donations from members’ online purchases; a Let’s Yo! of Jackson fundraiser night; a Laurita Winery wine tasting event; a mega 50/50; and car washes. “We are still seeking a major corporate sponsor, whose name and logo will appear on our parade uniforms,” informs McCormick.
“Participation in the marching band, as well as the Tournament of Roses, promotes the importance of music education in New Jersey at a time when many such programs are being cut from cash-strapped school budgets,” comments McCormick. “The Jackson Jaguars Band prides itself on strong student leadership and dedication to the music program, as evidenced by the hundreds of Jaguars Band alumni who have continued with music careers in education, composition, production, and performance.”
Article written by Christa Riddle, www.allaboutwritingconsulting.com.