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Local graduates march with SDSU at Macy's Thanksgiving parade

Lead Summary
Mavis Fodness

Four local high school graduates marched several miles Thanksgiving Day in the most-watched parade in person and on television.
Tess Van Maanen, Kacie Kracht, Sophie Holmberg and Kevin Kessler were a part of the 344-member Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band from South Dakota State University in Brookings.
The Pride of the Dakotas was one of 12 bands invited to march the 2.5-mile parade route through Manhattan for the 96th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. An estimated 3 million people lined the streets for the event.
Kessler, an LHS Class of 1993 graduate, is the band’s director.
“It was thrilling,” he said. “The enormous crowd, the sounds, and marching in amongst the skyscrapers combined to create an overwhelming atmosphere.”
Holmberg and Kracht are also graduates of LHS in the classes of 2021 and 2020 respectively.
“The whole thing was crazy,” said Holmberg, who plays mellophone.
Thanksgiving Day was a long one for Holmberg and the 344-member band.
They met at 2:30 a.m., already dressed in full uniform. The band appeared on live TV at 11 a.m. performing in front of the Macy’s department store.
“By the time we were marching down the street, we were already tired,” Holmberg said. “It was amazing because there was still this energy within the band that kept us awake and energetic.”
Van Maanen, H-BC Class of 2022, played the trumpet in the unique experience.
“I got to spend time with some of the most amazing people, and those memories that I made are something I will never forget,” she said.
Being a part of a marching band is a new experience for Van Maanen.
“Coming from a school that did not do any marching was difficult, but once I got the hang of everything, it just clicked. It has been an amazing experience,” she said.
Kessler said he prepared the band for the long parade route by putting in extended time marching and then mimicked the solo performance on the Macy’s Star in front of the department store.
The band prepared a series of songs for the parade route.
They performed “Ring the Bell,” the SDSU fight song, and played a medley of tunes from “West Side Story” while moving down the street. At the Macy’s Star, the band stopped, faced the audience and played “Birdland.”
Kessler said the band went through an application process that included sending in a video of the band, a biography that included a history of the band, and letters of recommendation.
The 2022 Macy’s parade was the first time an SDSU band performed at the annual televised event.
“It was really cool to know people back home in Luverne were watching us,” Holmberg said.

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