Albertville Band meets Tournament of Roses president

By Elizabeth Summers, The Sand Mountain Reporter

Albertville High School Aggie Band members met Alex Aghajanian, president and chairman of the board of the Tournament of Roses Tuesday morning.

Aghajanian told band members to expect 750,000 people to line the parade route and more than 50 million people will view the parade on television and online as the parade runs the route on Jan. 1, 2024.

Michele Cerillo and Calli Camp are now equal parts excited and terrified to perform at the 135th annual Tournament of Roses Parade next year.

“I didn’t expect there to be as many people there as he said there would be,” Cerillo said.

Camp is just as stunned at the number expected to watch.

“I’m really excited to be going, but really scared too,” she said. “There are just going to be so many people!”

Aghajanian said the Aggie Band was one of 15 bands chosen to perform out of a pool of 60 entries. The band is led by Director Taylor Cash.

“You are part of a very special group coming to the parade,” he told band members.

“I understand that when you come to Pasadena, you will be doing lots of fun things … going to Disneyland, the beach. You’ll fly over the Rockies to get there. For some of you, I’m sure it will be your first time in a plane.

“You’re going to have lots of great experiences.”

Aghajanian signed posters for each student and gave them a collectible lapel pin Tuesday as part of his visit to Albertville this week.

He and his wife, Paula, will visit each of the towns and cities where each of the 15 bands are prior to the parade.

As a former clarinet player, Aghajanian has plenty of experience as a band member.

“Don’t stop practicing your clarinet or the instrument you play,” he told students. “I’m no good anymore now that I stopped playing.”

Parade preparations

Missy Lindley is not a newcomer to the Rose Parade. She and her family have participated twice before. She is the Director of Bands at Albertville Middle School, Associate Band Director for the high school and is advisor for the Albertville High School Southern Stars Danceline.

“The first time we went, I was just so overwhelmed,” Lindley said. “That corner at Colorado Boulevard and Orange Grove Boulevard is just amazing … all the people lined up along the route. It’s something you don’t forget.”

The parade route is 5 ½ miles long, starting at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard. The parade travels at a pace of 2 ½ miles per hour before turning onto Colorado Boulevard where the majority of the parade viewing takes place.

Lindley said she and her husband, Chris Lindley, former Aggie Band director, first participated in the parade in 2011 and she, her husband and their twin daughters who were band members at the time, marched the parade again in 2018.

She said conditioning was key to surviving the parade.

“It’s unlike anything else,” she said. “We will begin conditioning in May and will practice marching and performing while marching around the neighborhoods surrounding the school.

“We have neighbors who really enjoy that and come out onto their porches to watch us. It’s really neat.”

Cerillo said she’s been working out at a local gym since finding out the band was to perform the lengthy parade.

“I’m in the danceline, so we will be performing routines and not just walking,” she said.

Camp said she was a member of the volleyball team but quit the team to devote her time to the band since they both play the same time of year.

“I’m experienced in conditioning,” she said.

Cerillo said she’s looking forward to performing in California but knows the road there is going to be tough.

“We’ll start learning our routine in May,” she said. “We will be throwing flags while walking all that way. It’s going to be a lot to do.”

Aghajanian estimated the cost to be about $3,000 per student, but said the support the community has given the band has been phenomenal. The Aggie Band boasts about 350 members, Cash said.

“The support we’ve seen so far has been insane,” Camp said. “We’ve done a lot of fundraising, but it’s been a lot.”

Aghajanian said when choosing bands to perform in the parade organizers look for bands with outstanding parental and community backing and support.

“We started building this parade in 2022,” he said. “We chose the theme and it took six months to identify bands we wanted.

“We look at the band’s sound, performance, the type of support they have and the sound they will bring to the parade. Albertville High School had such a vibrant sound. The kids are wonderful!

“Our music committee screens the bands that have applied and we have a movie night where the music committee, me and Paula look at their submitted videos and make our choices.

“Albertville’s support was off the charts!”

Life changing trip

Aghajanian said the trip to the Rose Parade is a life changing one which will bring each student and band leader into the Rose Bowl family.

“At the end of the parade, each person will receive an In and Out burger to enjoy at the park,” he said.

“That is where all the bands get together and meet each other. They often times start playing music together.

“We want to give opportunities for students and performers to make friends and learn new things, be introduced to new sounds, music and experiences.”

In addition to the 15 bands chosen to perform, there will be six bands that perform at every parade, Aghajanian said. There will also be bands from Costa Rica, Japan, England and Sweden performing.

The theme of this year’s parade is “Celebrating a World of Music,” he said.

“Whether you are you are young or old, regardless of what type of music you like, there is always a type of music for everyone,” he said. “This year, we have a place on our website that features curated playlists. There is a ‘Feelin’ Just a Little Funky’ list, a list of classic rock tunes I picked, and there will be more coming.”

Paula said music can be found anywhere.

“The birds singing is music,” she said. “The wind blowing can be musical. Music is all around us if you stop and listen.”

Watch the parade

Aghajanian said the parade will be live streamed for the first time this year in addition to being shown on network television. ABC, NBC, and Peacock will all have the parade broadcasting starting at 8 a.m. PST on Jan. 1.

Follow the Tournament of Roses on Instagram at Tofr1. This page is Aghajanian’s page and allows viewers to follow him as he visits each of the 15 bands chosen to perform in the parade and more.

Log onto for complete information about the parade, the day’s festivities, and activities slated from now until the parade lineup, Aghajanian said.

students standing playing game at a table with two people sitting down

Aggie Band member Holli Brogdon played an impromptu game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ with President and Chairman of the Board of the Tournament of Roses Parade Alex Aghajanian during a meeting Tuesday morning. Aghajanian and his wife, Paula, visited Albertville as part of a tour to meet each of the 15 bands chosen to perform in the annual New Year’s Day parade.

man standing in red jacket in front of band

President and Chairman of the Board of the Tournament of Roses Parade Alex Aghajanian speaks in front of the Aggie Band to a crowd of supporters at an outdoor concert on April 25.