This story is published in collaboration with The Collegian.
NEW YORK (COLLEGIAN) – We’re getting closer to the day The Pride of the Dakotas has been waiting for since April 2021. Tomorrow, the Pride will take to the streets of New York to perform in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
After dining at the Hard Rock Cafe for breakfast, students hopped on seven buses headed for Waldwick, New Jersey. The band spent most of the morning practicing their parade routine at Superdome Sports.
Elisabeth Riisnaes, a junior alto saxophone player, said she feels the rehearsal went well.
“I felt like today we had it pretty well put together,” she said. “At least the line I was in, we didn’t miss our squats … we were able to turn at the right time, the lines looked pretty straight and everyone felt like they were on the right step.”
Kevin Kessler, director of athletic bands, said the process of getting to march in the Macy’s parade has taken multiple years.
“This whole process is three years in the making,” he said. “The beginning of putting together the application started in December of 2019. I am so excited.”
The anticipation and adrenaline is starting to kick in for the students, who say they’re prepared and excited for tomorrow’s show.
“I think the performance, the final one [in front of Macy’s], will be totally cool,” Makira Wrage, a freshman sousaphone player, said. “We’ll be on national TV. We get to do it once and we have to make it our best run.”
Once the band returned from New Jersey, they headed to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum for a performance on the Intrepid aircraft carrier. Family, fans and museum visitors got the chance to hear the Pride perform the school song, “Yellow and Blue,” “Ring the Bell,” “Danger Zone,” “Veterans Salute” and more.
“It was really cool to do it in that sort of venue,” freshman tuba player William Karels said. “The ship was kind of like a sound shell, almost like we’re in a concert hall, but it was still outdoors. We were able to be loud.”
Lori McMillan, mother of freshman trumpet player Grant McMillan, made the trip with her family to New York yesterday for the parade. They flew independently from the SDSU family group and have reservations at Pazza Notte for tomorrow, which has an exclusive view of the parade.
“It’s indescribable almost, it gives me goosebumps and chills,” McMillan said about watching the Intrepid performance. “They’re an amazing group of kids and I’m so excited to have them be on the world stage.”
Also in attendance at Intrepid were notable SDSU administrators. David Reynolds, director of the School of Performing Arts, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge and President Barry Dunn made the trip over to New York yesterday for the parade.
Dunn had a few words of encouragement to share with the band.
“You’re just such wonderful young men and women,” he said. “(I) couldn’t be prouder if you were all my grandkids.”
Dinner was again at Ben’s Deli and John’s Pizzaria, followed by a quick meeting on what will happen tomorrow morning to prepare for the parade.
It was an early night for the Pride as their call time for rehearsals tomorrow is 2:20 a.m. Many Pride members, like Riisnaes, are anxiously awaiting the big event tomorrow.
“I don’t think it hit me yet how big it’s going to be, so I hope I don’t get too nervous when we get there, but I’m so completely psyched,” she said.
The parade begins at 9 a.m. EST and fans at home can watch the coverage on NBC.
Follow along The Collegian’s social media for live updates on parade details. Co-Editor-in-Chief Gracie Terrall will be walking alongside the band for a majority of the parade to take photos, and Co-Editor-in-Chief Jordan Rusche will be in the bleachers with Dunn, Hedge, Reynolds and Lynn Sargeant, dean of the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, to capture the crowds’ perspective.