The Pride heads south for Citrus Bowl Parade


The people of Orlando, Fla., are just months away from hearing SDSU’s marching band, the Pride of the Dakotas.

The Pride recently applied for and received their invitation to perform in the Citrus Bowl Parade. The parade is the prelude to the Capital One Bowl game on Jan. 1, 2012.

Few collegiate bands are selected to perform in the parade.

“Most of the bands that play in the parade are high school bands,” said Jim Coull, director of athletic bands. “For SDSU to get invited is a pretty good honor for us.”

Coull said the application process usually doesn’t start until August. He asked the committee to change the date because SDSU students are not in Brookings over the summer and need time to raise money.

“It is interesting,” Coull said. “The Citrus Bowl Parade committee held a meeting to specifically approve the Pride.”

Coull said it took a couple days to sink in the news when he received the invitation.

“At first, it was more of a big relief; you put so much into it,” he said. “It took me a couple days to get happy, and that lasted a week, then when we started working on all the details, I wished we were going to Volga instead.”

Coull said this invitation means a lot for the Pride.

“The prestige is good for the music department, SDSU and South Dakota,” he said. “It puts a good face on us as an organization and the school as an institution.”

Aaron Ragsdale, assistant director of bands, agreed with Coull.

“It is a good chance to show those Big 10 and [Southeastern Conference] bands that are used to being on TV what we do up here,” Ragsdale said. “We think our students do really good work. It’s nice to have that vindicated and validated by outside observers.”

Ragsdale said the number of students going to Orlando is still up in the air.

“We won’t really know until everyone signs up for classes,” he said.

John Daniel, one of the section leaders for the alto sax section, said he is excited about being invited to perform.

“Marching in front of a crowd bigger than Hobo Day will be exciting,” Daniel said. “I came from a small school, so it’s a rush.”

Daniel said he is looking forward to spending time with friends on the trip.

“It will be my senior year, and my best friends are in the Pride, so it will be a great last hurrah for all of us,” he said.

Coull said as of right now, the students will arrive in Orlando on Dec. 28 and will return on Jan. 1.

Ragsdale and Coull said they are considering various activities for the students, such as Pirate Dinner Experience, Universal Studios, Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, alligator farms and an aquatic park.

“There are so many things to do, and so little time,” Coull said.

The Pride has marched in two Rose Bowl Parades – one in 2003 and one in 2008. They marched in the 1981 and 1997 presidential inaugurations for former Presidents Reagan and Clinton. The Pride was also the featured band in the PBS Production of “A Capitol Fourth,” and they performed for the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C., in 2000.