Pride members, band faculty eager for New York trip

Collegian graphic by Mara Wheaton

Collegian graphic by Mara Wheaton

Peyten Weise, Reporter

The South Dakota State University Foundation is in the process of raising $700,000 for the Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band to travel to New York and march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

The cost per band member is $2,500, and the Foundation will cover $2,000 for each student. The student has to pay the other $500. 

Donations have ranged from a few dollars to just over $100,000, according to Steve Erpenbach, president and CEO of the Foundation. He said the One Day for STATE event last week and the band performing at football games will lead to more traction in donations.

“As a student in my twenties, finances can make it difficult for me to fully enjoy costly experiences,” said Lindsey Sisco, a junior mellophone player. “But now that the Foundation has helped cover so much with the Macy’s trip, I can really take in this rare opportunity and put all my focus into the reason I am there. I can focus on showing New York and the world what the Pride of the Dakotas is made of.”

The Foundation reaches out to donors who they think would have an interest in donating. SDSU’s alumni and donors with a strong love of music have been key in donating. 

In addition to the Foundation’s work in raising money, the Bookstore is selling Pride of the Dakotas T-shirt’s with Jack the Jackrabbit holding a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sign for $29.99. All money raised goes to the Pride. 

Kevin Kessler, director of the athletic bands, said he is looking forward to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kessler said he is most excited to see the student’s reactions to seeing the city of New York for the first time. 

“I will enjoy seeing New York again through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before,” Kessler said. 

When asked what he thinks about having a band with over 345 members, Kessler responded, “It’s very exciting to see and hear that many people on the field.” 

Kessler said he appreciates his team of other faculty professors and the student leaders for helping prepare the band for the high-profile event. He thanked Aaron Ragsdale, professor of percussion; Jacob Wallace, director of bands; Andrea Kieckhefer, Dakota Blue Flag Corps; Ashley Ragsdale, pit ensemble coordinator; and Kathy Larsen, uniform and equipment manager. 

Kessler said New York provides students with a good experience so members continue to come back, and the Pride will grow.  

“I am first and foremost blessed to work with such great people, faculty and staff,” he said. 

Sisco said the reality of the trip hasn’t quite hit her yet.

“I’m excited to see if I can get into any live shows with my peers in our downtime,” she said. “I am also really excited to perform for most of the world with some of my favorite people. Being a fashion guru, I can’t leave out the fact that I will be saving some room in my suitcase for what New York has to offer my wardrobe.” 

She also has gained many friends through the Pride, saying they are like “a family.”

Becca Ady, a junior saxophone player, said she is nervous about the trip but is glad many of her friends will be there.

“I am super excited and thankful that the foundation is paying for most of the trip,” Ady said. “It means a lot that they are willing to help us get to New York City. I know for me personally if they hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have been able to go, so it’s special that they are.”

When asked what she thinks the biggest challenge will be, Ady said it will be “staying focused in a crowd that massive.”

David Reynolds, director of the School of Performing Arts, said he is thankful to the Foundation and donors. 

“I continue to be humbled by the support that the band and other activities of the School of the Performing Arts has received from alumni and friends,” Reynolds said. “This trip represents an opportunity for students to garner memories that will last their lifetime.”