Arts & Entertainment

Ohio State Marching Band takes traditions to Rose Bowl

Ohio State Sousaphone player Cory Near explains
Ohio State Sousaphone player Cory Near explains "dotting the i" to KPCC's Brian Watt.
Nat Katz

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Before the battle on the football field at the Rose Bowl, there was the battle of the bands on the boulevards of Pasadena.

The power of the Ohio State Marching Band was evident in Hogan Wagner, who watched the Tournament of Roses Parade along Orange Grove Boulevard. Wagner lives in Simi Valley, but he grew up in a little town called Circleville, Ohio. As he tried to explain that it's about an hour south of Columbus, the familiar sounds of the marching band pulled him away.

"It’s the BAND! The Band!!!!! Hold on," he insisted. He rushed forward for a while, then came back when the marching Buckeyes had passed.

"I love the band and 'dotting the i'," he said. "I don’t know where the Tuba player is — the guy that dots the 'I', but that would be awesome to see."

He was actually talking about a sousaphone player named Cory Near. Before the parade started, Near explained the spectacle that the band makes at every football game.

"One of our traditions in the Ohio State Marching Band is performing script Ohio," said Near. "It is basically writing out the word Ohio in script, and then the drum major leads out a sousaphone player to do the top of the i."

Only senior sousaphoners get the honor of dotting the i. The Tournament of Roses parade and the Rose Bowl halftime show were Cory Near's last marches for the Buckeyes. He graduates in the spring, then plans to teach music.