“Georgia Boys” make trip for 36th Hobo Day celebration


“Georgia Boys” first trip to SDSU in 1983 to see their high school friend, Jim McKinney direct the Pride.

Lauren Franken

Former Pride of the Dakotas director Jim McKinney and his high school friends, a group nicknamed the “Georgia Boys,” doesn’t take Hobo Day lightly.

For McKinney’s friends, making the two-day drive from Georgia to Brookings was an easy task if it meant watching their friend direct The Pride of the Dakotas on Hobo Day.

Though McKinney has since retired from his 26-year tenure as SDSU’s band director in 2009, his friends still make the trip up every year for Hobo Day to help him celebrate.

This year marks the Georgia Boys’ 36th Hobo Day, something McKinney’s friend Tom Eads said he’s really proud of.

“We’re hoping to hit 50 years,” Eads said. “Can you imagine that? I’ll be out here when I’m 80.”

Eads and a few other friends from Hapeville High School in Hapeville, Georgia made their first trip to South Dakota State just before Hobo Day in 1983 to surprise McKinney, who was in the middle of a band rehearsal when his friends got into town.

“He [Jim] yelled ‘You’d better move that car — you’ll ruin my show.’ And I said ‘It’s not your show anymore, Mr. McKinney. It’s our show now,’” Eads said.

Eads called his first Hobo Day “fantastic” even though “the football team back then was just horrible.”

But for the Georgia Boys, Hobo Day has never been about the game.

“We came to support him [McKinney] — he’s our buddy, obviously we love him, so we come every year,” Eads said. “It was all just about the band.”

However, now that McKinney is retired, Hobo Day has become more about the Georgia Boys reconnecting and celebrating Hobo Day.

“We usually end up down at Skinner’s,” Eads said. “Watching everybody have such a good time — because everybody, young and old, it’s just such a happening.”