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Tucker performs in Rose Parade
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Tucker performs in Rose Parade

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Chris Tucker, Gretna Middle School band director, stands with the Band Directors Marching Band parade float in Pasadena, California. Tucker was selected as one of more than 200 band directors, and the only Nebraskan, from across the country to play and march in the 2022 Rose Parade.

Gretna Middle School band director Chris Tucker took the trip of lifetime over the weekend.

Tucker was selected as one of more than 200 band directors from across the country to play and march in the Band Directors Marching Band at the 2022 Rose Parade, held Saturday, Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California.

Tucker was the only Nebraskan to perform as part of the band, a combined parade entry of an animated float and band comprised of marching band of band directors from all across the country, called a salute to exceptional instruction, character development and inspiration provided by music educators everywhere on the Saluting America’s Band Directors website.

Each year, an All-American band made up of high school students is formed for the Rose Parade. A former student of Tucker’s performed in that band years back. His parents suggested Tucker apply to this year’s band formed for directors.

“The parent who brought it to my attention, when their student went, took the whole family and really enjoyed the experience,” Tucker said. “It was his excitement that drew my interest to it.”

Tucker said she worked on the music — a combination of patriotic and popular jazz — throughout the fall and around Gretna’s own marching season.

The New Year’s Day parade route was 5.5 miles and included a segment in front of TV cameras where band members had to play and march continually for an extended period of time.

“I’d rather run 5.5 miles than march,” Tucker said. “I think marching is much more draining.”

To prepare, Tucker said she circled the indoor track at the gym, carrying double the weight of her instrument and fingering along the top of the weights while listening to the music she would play.

“I haven’t been to California in probably three decades,” Tucker said before the event. “It will be nice to be back in that state and to enjoy some warm weather. I’m looking forward to meeting people from all across the country. I go to an international convention in December every year. There’s a good chance I’ll be able to see some of these people again in future years.”

Tucker said she was excited to represent Nebraska and was looking forward to learning other marching styles and being under someone else’s direction.

“To learn some things that are different and new than what I’ve had exposure to in the past,” she said.

Originally scheduled for 2021, the performance was rescheduled to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The band met Dec. 29 to begin rehearsals in anticipation of the weekend parade. The Band Directors Marching Band also performed at Band Fest, held as Pasadena City College’s Robinson Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 30.

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