Marching to the Rose Parade Beat
It’s official! The young musicians who make up the Municipal Band of Zarcero (BMZ) in Alajuela have given Costa Ricans a resounding reason to celebrate, as they prepare to showcase their talents once again in the Rose Parade next year.
Wait … once again? Yes, the 135th Rose Parade on January 1, 2024 in Pasadena, California will mark the second time the BMZ participates in this iconic event, having been chosen by the Tournament of Roses Association. The first time was in 2020. To call it a world-class honor is an understatement, partly because the 2024 Rose Parade theme is “Celebrating a World of Music.” Yet, of the 20 bands selected to march in the upcoming 2024 parade, only two others — representing Japan and Sweden, respectively — are from outside the U.S. So obviously, the BMZ is the sole Latin American participant.
The excitement began on March 4, National Marching Band Day — coinciding with the BMZ’s 15th anniversary — when word came from Pasadena announcing the successful 2024 Rose Parade applicants. Activities then got underway for a BMZ delegation, headed by its general director, Elesban Gerardo Rodríguez Rojas, to receive the official parade accreditation flag. It was presented by Tournament of Roses president Alex Aghajanian, who traveled with his wife to Costa Rica for the special flag ceremony. This took place at the Zarcero Fairground on Sunday morning, April 2 — fittingly preceded by a parade that the BMZ organized from the local park.
The live-broadcast event featured samples of the BMZ’s work, including a mosaic of musical arrangements that they presented at the 2020 Rose Parade. Another highlight was an artistic presentation by the Kabrú Rójc Brunkacj, who collaborated with Zarcero band members and gave permission to incorporate images and items of cultural significance in their Rose Parade performance.
Officials attending the Zarcero flag ceremony included Nayuribe Guadamuz Rosales, Minister of Culture and Youth; Michael Flores, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of the United States; Ronald Araya Solís, mayor of Zarcero; members of the Municipal Council and the Zarcero Music Association, and the Administrative Board of the Professional Technical College of Zarcero. Sponsor groups were also represented, including Coope-Ande No. 1 RL, the official sponsor, and INS Group, co-sponsor.
The selection criteria for marching bands in the Rose Parade include musicianship, marching ability, uniqueness, entertainment value or special interest. Past parades have featured diverse band types, from drum and bugle corps to brass and percussion bands to bagpipes. High school, college and university, and military bands have taken part from around the world, including Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, Central America, and the Pacific Islands.
To learn more about the Municipal Band of Zarcero and view past performances, visit