St. Louis natives lead Marching Mizzou to NYC for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:26 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Marching Mizzou will bring a little M-I-Z to NYC this Thursday as the band takes part in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time in the program’s 137-year history.

“This is a coveted invitation, and there will be a lot of black and gold in the city on their streets,” said Amy Knopps, band director of Marching Mizzou.

Marching Mizzou is seeing high interest, Knopps said, after the pandemic limited the number of band members able to perform together as well as overall performances.

“We have 350 members and we actually had to defer about 250 people this year,” she said.

All 350 members made the trip to New York City on Sunday, preparing for a 3 a.m. dress rehearsal on Thursday morning before stepping off at the front of the parade at 8 a.m.

“It’s going to be chaos but it’ll be amazing at the same time,” said Cooper Gibbs, a senior drum major and Ft. Zumwalt West graduate. “I’m really looking forward to taking it all in as it’s being thrown at us. It’s the definition of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The band found out it would be one of 12 bands invited to march in the parade during the pandemic over a Zoom call with parade organizers.

“We didn’t know what was going on until the end when the guy revealed he was with the parade,” said Kesley Kobielusz, a senior from Maryland Heights. “My jaw literally hit the floor. I was astonished because growing up, we’d watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year.”

Since then, the band has spent time preparing not only for performances during home football games, but also its new arrangement created for the parade, including a tribute to Mizzou alumna Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do.”

“I think the hardest thing is coordination, we are so large that sometimes the front of the parade block may not know what the back of the parade block is doing,” said Jimmy Flavin, a senior from O’Fallon. “It’s cool we’re finally getting recognized, not just Missouri, but St. Louis. It’s really cool that we’re representing my hometown essentially.”

The parade begins on 34th Street in Manhattan and is 2.5 miles long, about a mile longer than the annual Mizzou Homecoming Parade. Further, the band must complete the route in 50 minutes.

“We’ve partnered with programs to help us with our endurance and get us ready for this,” said Flavin.

For some seniors, Thursday’s performance could be one of the last of their careers, ahead of Mizzou’s final home game against Arkansas on Friday.

“It’s kind of sad but really, it kind of wraps everything up in a really nice way,” said Mae Chott, a senior from Arnold. “It’s going to be a transition for me, it’s pretty much the end of my journey as a musician.”

For Kobielusz, the bragging rights and memories are enough to keep her satisfied as she looks forward to graduation and the rest of her life.

“Where can you really go from here,” she said. “It’s a good peak to end on for sure.”