The 200-member Panther Band has Hollywood on its mind and Pasadena in its sights as it prepares to perform in the fabled Tournament of Roses parade on New Year’s Day.
For a university marching band, three big performances can signal its arrival as a force to be reckoned with: a presidential inaugural parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rose Parade ahead of the “Grandaddy of them all,” the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day.
Barely a decade since its founding, the Georgia State Panther Band is checking the last of those three boxes off its list.
Canceled in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Rose Parade is being rebooted for 2022 with the same slate of invitees, including the Panther Band. And the band is performing a decidedly West Coast halftime show this season as it prepares for the big day.
“Everything we’re doing is highlighting our excitement about what we’re doing in January,” said Chester B. Phillips, the founding director of athletic bands and interim director of the School of Music. “If we can’t take our local audience with us to California, we can try to bring them on the journey with us by giving them a little flair of Hollywood all season long.”
With halftime tunes including The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin,’” the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and a medley reminiscent of old Hollywood, the show wraps with Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose.”
“The end of our season is going to the Rose Parade, so we wanted to tie that in,” Phillips said.
The Panther Band also has a new look on the field this year, with refreshed uniforms that replace the Georgia State flame logo with an image of the Pounce mascot.
Founded alongside Georgia State’s football team in 2010, the Panther Band has been rated by its peers as one of the premier marching bands in all of collegiate athletics. It was ranked among the top 10 by the College Band Directors National Association in 2013 and among the top five in the Southern Division in 2012, 2016 and 2020.
Known as the “Sound of Downtown,” the Panther Band has also been invited to the most prestigious events a marching band can play. The band marched in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013 and in the 88th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2014.
In February 2019, as Atlanta hosted Super Bowl LIII, the Panther Band captured the attention of more than 100 million television viewers during the Pepsi Halftime Show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
And at 8 a.m. PST on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif., it’ll step off with the 133rd Tournament of Roses parade for a performance in front of yet another worldwide audience.
“The Panther Band is definitely ready for Pasadena,” drum major Sarah Harden (B.B.A. ’22) said. “I’m hoping Pasadena is ready for the Panther Band.”
Photo by Meg Buscema