The two most-watched parades in America annually are the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and the Tournament of Roses Parade. The Alabama Million Dollar Band performed at Macy's in 2021, for the first time, and now they are marching in the Rose Parade on January 1.

The 400-member MDB flies to Pasadena, Calif., on December 30 to work double duty. First, they march in the 5.5-mile Rose Parade on the morning of New Year's Day, and then they perform that afternoon at the Rose Bowl football game, in the stands during the game and on the field with a halftime show.

This week, band members are out of school and at their homes attending Christmas and family gatherings. Because of the strenuous marching of the parade, including carrying heavy instruments, UA Band director Dr. Ken Ozello is communicating with all band members, asking them to walk and otherwise exercise while at home. They will get only a small amount of practice time when they return to Tuscaloosa to depart for California. They are flying charter planes from Tuscaloosa to Los Angeles.

January 1, 2024, appears to be the first time the Million Dollar Band will march in the Rose Parade, according to Ozello.

"Certainly from the '70s on, they were not in the Rose parade, or I think I would have heard about that," Ozello told the Tuscaloosa News. "This may be the first."

Bama fans getting over celebrations from New Year's Eve will not get to sleep late the next morning. The 135th Rose Parade will roll at 10 a.m. CT on January 1. To see the MDB roll, you got to get up and turn the TV on.

Later that day, the #4 Alabama football team faces #1 Michigan at 4 p.m. in the Rose Bowl in a semi-final of the College Football Playoff.

The state of Alabama will be well represented in this year's Rose Parade as the Albertville High School Aggie Band also will march.

For more on the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade, including the parade lineup, see www.tournamentofroses.com.

The famous Rose Parade is 34 years older than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The MDB was the featured band, escorting the float-riding Santa Claus for his official entrance.

The Rose Parade, 135 years old, has been around longer than the Rose Bowl football game, which was played once in 1902 and not again until 1916. Besides a one-year World War II interruption, the Rose Bowl football game has continuously played since 1916. "The granddaddy of them all."

In 2021, the Rose Bowl was moved to Arlington, Texas, for one game only due to California's COVID restrictions. I nicknamed it "The Yellow Rose of Texas Bowl." In that game, Alabama defeated Notre Dame 31-14. The coaching duel was Nick Saban versus Brian Kelly, now coach of LSU.

The Rose Parade draws an estimated crowd of 700,000 along the 5.5-mile parade route, with another 80 million expected to be watching on national TV.

The theme of the 2024 Rose Parade is "Celebrates a World of Music." It will be live-streamed on multiple platforms, including FUBO, Christmas Plus, PLUTO TV and LocalTV for the first time. It will remain on broadcast channels, including ABC, The Cowboy Channel, The Cowgirl Channel, Great American Family, KTLA, NBC, RFD-TV and Univision.

Since the roadside crowd has new faces on every block, the MDB will play the Crimson Tide fight song, "Yea, Alabama," multiple times. Because the band is playing an instrumental version, only dedicated Alabama fans will realize the historical significance of the words to the song:

"Fight on, fight on, fight on, men.

Remember the Rose Bowl will win then.

Hey. Go roll to vict'ry. Hit your stride

Your Dixie's football pride, the Crimson Tide."

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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