Rose Parade will march to its own musical theme in 2024

The 135th Rose Parade hopes to hit a high note in 2024 with its latest theme, “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language.”

Alex Aghajanian made the announcement on Thursday, Jan. 19, the night he officially picked up the mantle as incoming president of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language” in front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Languagein front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language” in front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language” in front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language” in front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language” in front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language” in front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Pasadena Tournament of Roses incoming President, Alex Aghajanian announces the 2024 Tournament of Roses theme “Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language” in front of the Tournament House in Pasadena on Thursday, January 19, 2023. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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The new Rose czar will oversee the 135th Rose Parade and 110th Rose Bowl in 2024, returning to its usual New Year’s Day home after the Jan. 2 “Never on Sunday” experience this year.

Related: Complete coverage of the Rose Parade

“The 2024 theme brings us together through music,” Aghajanian said. “In a world of different cultures, beliefs, hopes and dreams, one language unites us all — music.”

The announcement kicks off the annual process of float-design planning and will be will help shape Rose-related events throughout the year, counting down the 345 days before the 135th parade.

Taiko drummers perform at Thursday’s Tournament of Roses ceremony. Photo: Screenshot of livecast

Dozens of volunteers turned out for Thursday’s reveal, broadcast live on YouTube, which featured a band of nine Taiko drummers to provide a booming soundtrack to the evening. Seven of the drummers served on various Tournament committees.

“From bossa nova to blues, classical to country, metal to mariachi and rock to rap, thousands of genres invite us to become one in celebrating a world of music,” Aghajanian said. “Whether near or far, young or old, we invite you to year-long festivities that culminate on New Year’s Day at the Rose Parade. Let the music begin!”

Aghajanian is a Pasadena attorney and longtime volunteer with the association, serving in various committees such as budget and finance, communications and music.

Related: Photos: Check out our 50 top images from Rose Parade 2023 

When it comes to music, Aghajanian said he he can play the clarinet fairly well, and can tickle the ivories. He grew up listening to Soul Train and playing jazz clarinet.

“Music connects with me,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to sharing that all year.”

Aghajanian said he chose to emphasize music because it connects people.

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“I can speak Armenian and you may not,” he said, “but I can tap a rhythm on a table and we can both enjoy that.”

No one does tradition like the Tournament of Roses, said Aghajanian, then proceded to share an annual Rose ritual.

Aghajanian entrusted the ceremonial “red umbrella” to Executive Vice president Ed Morales, who was deputized as being “in charged of the weather.” The umbrella, Aghajanian said, will remain unwrapped, assuring that it will not rain on the parade.

Rain — or as Tournament of Roses aficionados call it, The “R” Word — on the Rose Parade has traditionally been rare. The Rose Parade has never been canceled because of rain. It has rained at all on the march a total of 10 times — 1895, 1899, 1906, 1910, 1916, 1922, 1934, 1937, 1955 and 2006.

Aghajanian’s choice of theme follows the 2023 motif, “Turning the Corner,” which many translated as an effort to forge a positive outlook in society as the coronavirus pandemic wanes in the region and the nation. The theme inspired many of the floats and entries in the annual mammoth march through Pasadena’s streets.

In 2022, Bob Miller chose “Dream. Achieve. Believe.” as his tenure’s theme. There was no parade concept chosen in 2021 when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the Rose Parade for the first time in 75 years.

Patriotism was the theme in 1918, the earliest year that officials designated one, according to Rose Parade records.

The official 2024 poster for the Rose Parade was revealed Thursday evening, featuring a multi-colored round of musical shapes such as notes, instruments and figures lining a musical staff against a navy background. Courtesy Tournament of Roses

Concurrently, the official 2024 poster was revealed Thursday evening, featuring a multi-colored circular swirl of musical shapes such as notes, instruments and symbols lining a musical staff against a navy-blue background.

The tournament also announced its leadership and organizational structure for 2023-2024.

Ruth Martinez-Baenen, a volunteer since 1997, will step up to serve as the association’s president in 2031.

Officers elected to the 14-member Executive Committee include Morales, executive vice president; Mark Leavens, treasurer; and Terry Madigan, secretary.

Re-elected to the executive committee as vice presidents were Pam Knapp, Craig Washington and Jason Melillo.

Outgoing at-large members thanked for their work on the committee include Cecil Griffin, David Thaxton and Susy Woo. New at-large members Alain Camiling, Steve Darden and Eve Santillan join Steve Arellano and Regina Major on the committee.

Gary Leonard and Shannon McConnell were added to the Tournament of Roses board of directors.

Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association President Amy Wainscott waves along Colorado Boulevard during the 134th Rose Parade in Pasadena on Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Amy Wainscott, president of the 2023 Rose Parade, will serve as the group’s immediate past president. In an earlier interview, she said she is proud of the association and how it continues to be relevant for more than 133 years.

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Last year’s Rose Court finds joy in being spectators

During her tenure, Wainscott advised fellow members to reflect on one person who inspired their work with the tournament. The recent changing of the guard reflects the spirit that drives its rich legacy of tradition, she said.

“That spirit lives in each of us,” Wainscott said. “So, my charge to you is to be the spark. Lead with the intent to empower our volunteers and partners… Remind them of the valuable part they will play in ensuring this beautiful spectacle that we call the Rose Parade continues to turn the corner for many years to come.”

Anissa V. Rivera, columnist, “Mom’s the Word,” Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier Daily News, Azusa Herald, Glendora Press and West Covina Highlander, San Dimas/La Verne Highlander. Southern California News Group, 181 W. Huntington Drive, Suite 209 Monrovia, CA 91016. 626-497-4869 .

 

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