“What We Do at SDSU Matters”

Jessica Begeman knows the Pride of the Dakotas’ chance to perform at the Macy’s Parade is a college experience she’ll never forget.

"Walking down the stairs to the field, I feel the butterflies in my stomach. I hear the crowd cheering around us. Different sections start hyping each other up—jumping around, yelling together in a big circle. As we get ready to march onto the field, I look up into the crowd and at the lights shining down on us. My nerves turn to excitement, and we line up to start the show.”
Jessica in her Pride uniform, holding her trombone, giving a thumbs up, and smiling - taken at ESPN College GameDay

That’s how Jessica Begeman, a pharmacy major and trombonist from Martin, South Dakota, describes what a day in the life of a Pride member is like. The anticipation, the nerves, the sense of wonder, and finally, the thrill of performing in a century-old tradition for SDSU.

Though she participated in the marching band for the majority of her college career, Jessica originally didn’t intend to join the Pride when she arrived at State. She’d heard plenty of positive stories from students involved with the group, particularly during her campus visit during Distinguished Scholars’ Weekend. When Jessica returned to SDSU in the fall for new student orientation, she made what she calls, “an impulse decision – one I’ve never regretted.

From milestone performances at ESPN GameDay to a Queen-themed show at US Bank Stadium, Jessica has already found tremendous opportunities with the Pride. Now, she’s ready for the most unforgettable performance yet, marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

What does the opportunity to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade mean to you? 

To me, performing in the Macy’s Parade means that what we do, even now as students at SDSU, matters to someone. The whole experience is made better by the fact that there are so many people out there supporting us; someone saw the Pride performing and thought we deserved to have this experience, to travel to New York City and be a part of something great. Performing in this parade is going to be an experience I will never forget.

help send the pride to nyc

How will this trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade change your college experience?

I’ve never been to NYC before, so I think this experience will expand my view of the United States. It’s a great opportunity to explore a place I have never been, where I could meet new people who I may come to know for the rest of my life!

What are some key life lessons that being in the Pride has taught you? 

I have learned to never be afraid to ask for help. When joining the Pride, I had almost no marching band experience…I had never even seen a marching band perform. The whole experience was a bit overwhelming, but everyone in the Pride is willing to help. If I was struggling with a marching style or a chart, all I had to do was ask. There was never any hesitation; someone always helped me out.

What is your favorite song to perform with the Pride? 

My favorite song to perform with the Pride is "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". We played it for our Queen show during my freshman year, and now we have added it to our repertoire.

What’s the best part of being a member of the Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band?

Being in the Pride gives me a change of pace from my normal science-based classes and an opportunity to see people I normally wouldn't in my regular classes. Pride practice was the first place I made friends on campus.

Large group of students holding trombones, dressed in patriot costumes/clothes during a rehearsal.
Aerial photo of the Pride smiling for a photo at College Game Day.
Jessica smiles while standing with two friends, all holding trombones in their Pride uniforms.

Students like Jessica grew up watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a beloved holiday tradition.

This year, over 300 Jackrabbits have the monumental opportunity to not only witness the event in person, but to shine a spotlight on SDSU while performing in the heart of the action. Your gift can offer Pride members that historic, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Only 10 bands are selected to play in the parade each year, and achieving that honor is no small feat. The Pride’s appearance this Thanksgiving will round out the band’s “Triple Crown” of landmark performances, a trifecta of musical milestones that few bands achieve. Throughout its history, the Pride has experienced presidential inaugural parades and the Parade of Roses; after over 120 years of progress and growth, the Macy’s Parade will finally complete the Triple Crown.

Everything the Pride has been working toward has led to this. Though the memories and prestige the band will accumulate are priceless, some expenses are unavoidable. While each member of the group has personally invested $500, the cost to participate in the trip is $2,500 per student.

With your generosity, the band can reach a new high note in the soundtrack of South Dakota State University history.

Help send the Pride to New York City

Your donation of any size can ensure the Pride’s decades-long dream of reaching the Macy’s Parade becomes a reality.

Make a gift today