Former OSU Marching Band Director Jon Waters to Lead Rose Parade's Band of Band Directors

The former OSU marching band director will lead band in 2022 Rose Parade.

Richard Ades
Columbus Monthly
Jon Waters, former OSU marching band director

The man with the baton at the head of the Rose Parade’s band of band directors may look familiar. It’s none other than Jon Waters, who was appointed to lead Ohio State’s marching band in 2012 and served as an assistant director for a decade before. But less than two years after being named band leader, the university fired him over what was described as the ensemble’s “sexualized culture.” Some fans, including the TBDBITL’s alumni association, complained that the university had not given Waters enough time to deal with what was a long-standing problem. 

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Karen Sewell makes it clear she agrees, which is one reason Waters was invited to lead his fellow directors in Pasadena. “I wanted him to have a chance to shine,” she says. Besides, she adds, Waters was a longtime friend and supporter of her late husband, even writing drill for Mike Sewell’s Pickerington Central band and teaching it to the students. 

More:Former Pickerington Band Director Mike Sewell to be Honored at Rose Parade

Jim Kuebler also has a high view of Waters’ generosity, having once asked him to help out the nonprofit group Nellie’s Champions for Kids, which supports families of children with cancer. Waters invited some of the children the group served to an OSU band rehearsal. “We brought a whole bunch of pediatric cancer kids over there, and they got to hold instruments and play with the band.” It ended, Kuebler says, with the children marching alongside band members as they spelled out Script Ohio, launching an annual tradition that continues to this day.

This story is from the January 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.