These are good times for the Jackson Memorial High School Jaguar Marching Band and they got even better Tuesday. 

Jackson Memorial High School Jaguar Marching Band Christmas card (JMHSJMB)

The band has been prepping for its appearance in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California and now less than three weeks later they’ll head to Washington D.C. to perform in the Presidential Inaugural Parade.

Nearly 3000 bands sent in applications and the Jaguars Band under the direction of Bud McCormick was among the first to receive invitations to march in the January 21st parade following the swearing-in of President Obama and Vice President Biden.  The band is planning to play “God Bless America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in Washington.

Jackson Memorial High School Jaguar Marching Band practicing for their upcoming performances (JMHSJMB)

Meanwhile the 200 plus members first head to California for the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade on January 1st.  The Jaguar Band will be one of approximately 20 performing in the parade as they’ll represent New Jersey as well as the Mid-Atlantic region which consists of 16 states along the eastern seaboard.

They will be only the fifth band from the state to march in the parade and ironically the third from Ocean County as both Toms River South and Lakewood previously appeared in Pasadena.   For their New Year’s Day appearance the band will play a 60-second version of “Don’t Stop Believing” while they make their way down the 7-mile parade route.    They have been using the parking lot at Six Flags Great Adventure for practice during some cold days to prepare and are looking forward to some warm days during their 4-day California trip.  With chaperones and family members some 325 people will be heading to Pasadena.

If all goes as planned the Jaguars will appear on ABC around 11am with millions of people watching, including a proud school district and community.

On an unrelated note one of New Jersey’s most sought after high school kickers has made his college plans official.  Toms River North’s Chris Gulla emailed me last night that he has committed to Penn State and will head to Happy Valley as a preferred walk-on.

The Nittany Lions were Gulla’s top choice all along and after visiting the school last week he made the non-binding verbal commitment and chose PSU over South Carolina, Maryland and Rutgers.

As a preferred walk-on he will not receive a scholarship but will get a chance to compete for the kicking and punting jobs right away.   Gulla has an older sister who attends Penn State and he’s been accepted into the Smeal College of Business.