Elmore’s Jon Waters ‘leader of the band’ in Rose Bowl extravaganza

Dec 22, 2021 | Around Ottawa County, Featured | 14 comments

Heidelberg University’s band director Jon Waters, a native of Elmore, Ohio in western Ottawa County and a 1994 grad of Woodmore High School, has been chosen to direct the first America’s Band Directors Band during the prestigious Rose Bowl Parade on Saturday, Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.

The Ohio State University will battle the University of Utah, which won the PAC-12 Championship game against Oregon, 38-10, in Las Vegas on Dec. 3.

The Rose Parade will begin at 11 a.m. EST on Jan. 1. The Buckeyes-Utes clash kickoff is 5 p.m. EST.

Waters, assistant professor of music education and director of bands at Heidelberg, has gathered more than 300 band directors from around the country who will be performing during the Tournament of Roses Parade. All 50 states and Mexico are represented in the Band Directors Marching Band specifically comprised of middle and high school band directors.

The band was established through the Sewell Foundation of Pickerington, Ohio, said Waters. “There will likely never be a more experienced band assembled than this one. What’s more, the band will represent music educators from across the country and around the world.”

The diversity of the members is unique, Waters said.

Travis Magoto, a band director for the Benton-Carroll-Salem Local School District in Oak Harbor, is one of the band directors selected to convey the theme: “America’s band directors: We teach music. We teach life.”

Magoto has been a band director in Oak Harbor for the past 14 years, following his graduation from The Ohio State University in 2007. The Oak Harbor Bands have regularly been recognized for their high levels of performance and achievement. Magoto was named the Benton-Carroll- Salem Local School District “Teacher of the Year” for the 2019-2020 school year.

There’s a father who’s recently retired and his daughter who followed his footsteps as a band director, and another from a remote island in Alaska. And one of Heidelberg’s own — Blake Depinet, a senior music education major from New Riegel — will participate with his grandfather.

The America’s Band Directors Band will be the first band and float to appear together during the parade. Complete details on the project are available on the Saluting America’s Band Directors website, BandDirectorSalute.org.

“From the beginning, we did not want to take away a spot from a high school or college band,” said Waters. “We are calling ourselves a float with a band in and around it. We’ll be a float with 250-plus outwalkers,” Waters said.

The music performed by the band is to tie in with members’ local service projects.

“We’re asking each director to engage in some community service element in preparation for the parade in their home communities,” Waters said. “Then, the students will recognize their tunes in the parade. It’s bigger than just a single performance in sunny California on Jan. 1, 2022,” said Waters. “It represents the power of music in students’ lives.”

Waters is an internationally known music educator and band director. As director of marching and athletic bands at The Ohio State University, his innovative use of iPads in creating unprecedented animated marching formations led to worldwide recognition and millions of You Tube hits. In 2014, he delivered a TEDx talk on “Tradition thru Innovation.”

Waters joined Heidelberg in 2016, where he teaches Symphonic Band, Athletic Band, Brass Methods, Instrumental Conducting, Tuba Applied Lessons and Instrumental Music Education in the Secondary Curriculum.

Waters is a graduate of Woodmore High School and still has many ties to Ottawa County, said his aunt, Jeanie Waters Radloff. A few years ago, Waters brought the Ohio State Marching Band to play at Put-in- Bay. This year, he brought the Heidelberg Marching Band to perform at halftime of a Port Clinton game.

The Saluting America’s Band Directors custom-designed float includes many art pieces designed by Tom Batiuk, the creator of the “Funky Winkerbean” comic strip. The design for the float includes a drum major, flutist, a trombonist, and is led by a band director marching on a football field.

The float itself will consist of eight roses of different colors and dried natural materials such as coffee and coconut that make up the marching band figures seen on the float.

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  1. Mary kuehn

    What an presdive honor! You have to be very proud of him!!!

  2. Nancy Lee Meyer

    This is awesome! We can’t wait to watch the parade! What a tribute to the band directors that bring a love for music to so many young people.

  3. Marsha Bordner

    Those of us who know Jon know what a fabulous experience this will be for all! Bravo Professor Waters! Heidelberg is proud of you too!

  4. Dick pelleriti

    I have always felt OSU lost a very special asset. I’m glad to see he has continued to do spectacular things.I will be glued to my TV for the parade. Go John and Go Bucks! TBDBITL 54-58. Rose parade 55 and 58.😀

    • Ttom HLASTEnN

      Dick… Rose Bowl was a blast. Will Never forget !!

  5. George Bang

    We are so lucky to have Jon at Heidelberg. He is doing an amazing job with the band. We are all so proud of him.

  6. Cheryl Grossman

    Absolutely wonderful. Jon continues to innovate and share his incredible talents with so many. Well deserved

  7. DAvid Grimm

    I couldn’t be more proud of Jon. He has the talent to organize this.
    Jon’s leadership is Heidelberg’s gain and Ohio State’s loss.
    Proudly marched in 1971 and 1973 RB game and parade.
    Go Jon!
    David Grimm
    OSUMB 69-72
    Oak Harbor native

  8. Scott Gresser

    Thank you for writing this article. There’s a lot more to Ottawa County than just Lake Erie.

  9. David Randels

    Great Honor, Jon !! So very proud of you and all your efforts!!!!!! We will be watching!!! Much fun !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Theresa Mazur

    Such an honor to know this great man! My daihad the honor of taking part in marching with his Heidelberg university marching band this fall, and photographing with Jon. What a wonderful man he is. Excellent job Mr. Waters!

  11. Janet W. Ebert

    Oh, beloved friend of so many persons – you are meant to be on top! Congratulations!

  12. Ellen Clowes

    The Ohio State Marching Band has never been as good since Jon Waters left, in our opinion. Glad to see continued success.

  13. Bernie Welniak

    Short blip on TV was great, but no comparison to the many hours of preparation. Jonathan’s talent was on national display. Very deserving of accolades that he is receiving.


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