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Road to Pasadena: For Love of the Legion

Road to Pasadena: For Love of the Legion

Spartan Legion fans are a very determined group. Despite snowstorms, canceled flights and an abundance of frustration, they made it to Pasadena in time to see their beloved Legion thrill parade watchers during the 134th Tournament of Roses Parade. Fans celebrated their birthdays, wedding anniversaries and the New Year. Here are a few vignettes from Spartan Legion fans on the Road to Pasadena.

Strangers become Friends

As a former member of the Spartan Legion Band, Melvin Jordan ’84, ’85, knew that he had to go support them at the 2023 Rose Parade. Jordan, a current NSU Alumni Band Chapter treasurer and member of the Charlotte Alumni Chapter, booked a round-trip flight with Southwest Airlines. He would leave Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday, Dec. 29, arriving in California the same day. But on the 29th, he received a text saying his flight had been canceled. His attempts to rebook with Southwest were unsuccessful. However, he did receive a refund from the airline that same day and was able to book a flight on Spirit Airlines to fly from Charlotte to Las Vegas and then from Las Vegas to Santa Ana, California. But when he arrived in Las Vegas, that flight had been canceled by Spirit. He once again stood in line with about 350 people, attempting to rebook. However, the option he was given—to fly out in two days—would not work for him.  Southwest Airlines canceled about 17,000 flights between Dec. 21 and Dec. 31, 2022, leaving thousands of travelers stranded or scrambling to make alternative travel plans.  As luck would have it, Jordan made friends with two fellow passengers who had just booked a rental car. They agreed to split the cost and drove four hours from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Santa Ana, California, to pick up their luggage from the airport and then on to Huntington Beach, California, to the hotel that was hosting Norfolk State. He and his new friends vowed to stay in touch.

In the end, the canceled flights, long lines and travel frustration was worth it to him.

  • I had goose bumps and extreme pleasure in watching the Spartan Legion in the Rose parade. Tears of joy for the University, staff, students, and alumni flowed down my face as I watched the Rose Parade in the VIP viewing stands,” Jordan said. “I have always known that the Spartan Legion is world-class, and I will continue to participate in the NSU Alumni Band Chapter until God directs me to retire.”


35 Hours and 2,005 Miles to Pasadena

Neavaly Touray attended Norfolk State in the ’70s and heard that the Spartan Legion Band had been selected to perform in the Rose Parade. She and her family decided on going to the parade and that would be the large family’s annual December trip.

Touray FamilyThree parts of the family—her son and his family, Touray, her adult daughter and her grandson, and Touray’s sister and grandchild would travel from the Washington, DC, area to Pasadena. Her other family members were arriving from New York.

December 26, 2022, started out normally. Touray, her daughter, sister and the two children arrived at National Airport to catch their 6:55 a.m. flight. The first leg was to Nashville, Tennessee. Although they noticed the airport was extremely crowded, they knew that was to be expected over the Christmas holidays. When they arrived in Nashville at 8:35 a.m., it was snowing and sat on the airport tarmac for two and half hours and learned that Southwest had canceled their flight to LA. After working with the gate agent to rebook their flight, none were available even at airports that were closer to LA.  They were put on a standby flight departing at 7:35 p.m. to LA, which was the last flight and once they arrive would pick up a rental car and drive to Huntington Beach, California, where the trip’s host hotel was located. The standby flight was delayed to 10:45 p.m. and then cancelled at 7:30 p.m. Once again, they spoke with the gate agent only to be told that the computer had shut down and no flights were going to be rebooked until January 2, 2023, the day of the parade.  Also, there was no possibility of retrieving their luggage. The agent also stated that there were no vouchers available for hotels or food. Therefore, Touray called the car rental company only to be told that no cars were available until the next day, and it would cost an additional $1300. 

Her daughter, who is a frequent traveler, called another car rental company and was successful in securing a vehicle.  After securing the vehicle at 9:45 p.m., they began the drive to California — a 2,005-mile trip without luggage – just 3 adults, 2 children and 1 scooter that her sister uses along with a few carry-on bags. Touray’s daughter drove all night leaving Tennessee, through Arkansas and into Oklahoma.  Touray took over driving all day on Tuesday, through the rest of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  They only made stops for gas, food and to buy some clothes, toiletries, and other needed items, which Southwest would reimburse.  Her daughter was able to sleep and took over driving at the California state line which was 5 hours from destination. They reached the host hotel in Huntington Beach, California, at 4 a.m., Dec. 28.  Her son and his family, who arrived on Dec. 27, were there to meet them.  Their luggage arrived on December 27, and they were able to retrieve it from the airport.

On Jan. 2, when the Spartan Legion marched down Colorado Avenue in Pasadena, the experience was more than they imagined it would be. It was worth the drive to be there for Spartan Legion Band.

“The band was outstanding,” she said. “There were so many people from different cultures giving them kudos. To be a part of that, to be out there with all the alumni and the fellowship, it was a good experience.”

The Spartan Legion left the crowd in awe. As a result of their stellar performance, the Legion was selected as a parade fan favorite. Behold.