Pride of the Mountains to be the toast of New York on Thanksgiving Day


It’s been a year since the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band received its invitation to march in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 27 in New York City, and band members have been busy ever since working on getting there. This spring, they’ve been selling commemorative items and apparel featuring a unique parade logo to raise funds for the six-day trip. The cost, $600 per person, comes due in three installments – still not an easy sum to pay for all of the 400-plus members of the band.

Mountains to Macys

To help, some budgeted funds have been shifted to this previously unbudgeted item, said David Starnes, director of the Pride of the Mountains. “We’re doing without some things we’d planned to get, and not doing some things we’d planned to do,” Starnes said.

What they have planned to do will keep them busy enough, after they have practiced summer and fall for their usual field program in addition to the set for the parade. It won’t be work for the students. “They’ll be sightseeing on buses, viewing the 9/11 memorial and Radio City Music Hall, and taking an East River harbor tour,” Starnes said.

But the band members will definitely be earning their keep at the Marriott in Newark, N.J., once they are there. “We chose it because it has a large parking lot where we can rehearse,” Starnes said. “It will be a shock for us. Before performing, NBC rehearses the entire parade at 3 a.m. So there we’ll be, in frigid temps, in full uniform, under the lights, timed to the second to leave the staging area so we’ll be on our marks when the cameras are recording.”

Starnes, who composes music for the field program as well as the special parade program, also has been working this spring. That work will continue in the months to come as new members join band training in June, the Summer Symposium band camp continues as scheduled July 6-10, rehearsals begin, and the fall halftime performances begin at Catamount football games. “You’ll be hearing a preview on campus when the full band rehearses a week before school starts,” Starnes said. “There will be a 125th anniversary pregame show, with plans for Chancellor David Belcher and his wife, Susan, to present some iconic items.”

The band’s work won’t even be over after the parade has passed in front of an estimated 3.5 million attendees and 50 million television viewers. After a few days’ break from that performance, the Pride of the Mountains will present it again during a parade across campus to celebrate the closing 125th anniversary “It’s A Wrap” Party on Dec. 5.

Information about how to help the band raise funds to become the toast of New York and about opportunities to travel to watch the band perform at the parade is available at the website