Heelan grads march in Thanksgiving Day Parade

Lohr, Roerig play in New York for college marching band

By Zach James, Director of Communications and Marketing

Noah Roerig will wake up at 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, hoping that the moment of marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will have sunk in by then. 

Roerig (‘19) and fellow Bishop Heelan grad, Eric Lohr (‘20), are two in The Pride of the Dakotas, marching band at South Dakota State University. The SDSU band is one of two collegiate groups and one of 12 total bands in Thursday’s parade. 

The parade airs at 9 a.m. Thursday on your local NBC station and streamed live on Peacock.

Lohr is an alto saxophonist while Roerig will be playing the baritone. 

The Pride have been training for this opportunity for 18 months.

“You don’t realize how big of an event it is until you arrive in New York,” Lohr said. “I’m a chill person and I don’t get flustered with big crowds, but I am super pumped to seeing how big the crowd is going to be.” 

The SDSU band performed at several athletic and marching band events since it found out it was going to march Thursday in New York, but those little moments have led up to this big one. 

“It’s here,” Roerig said. “I can’t believe this is happening, but the way I would describe the experience is surreal. It’s been a lot of work, especially this semester.” 

Roerig said there have been a lot of rehearsals, a lot of practice, some lasting up to four hours on Sunday afternoons.

It’s all been needed in order to be ready to walk down New York, said Roerig. The Pride will do its last run-through Wednesday. 

“It’s getting to the point where we’re finally seeing that payoff,” Roerig said. 

Both men arrived in New York with their bandmates on Sunday, and both families flew out there to join in the fun. They realized right away that the largest city in the country is far different than Sioux City, Iowa. 

“It shows that anyone can do marching band and anyone can do this,” Lohr said. “We’re having the best time of our lives. I haven’t talked with Noah much, but when I saw him this week, he had the biggest smile on his face.” 

Roerig agreed that his time at Heelan prepared him for this big moment. Of course, both he and Lohr were deeply involved in the music department, which just celebrated a big weekend of having 12 vocalists and three band members at the IHSMA Festival. 

“The major reason I decided to do The Pride was because my director at Heelan encouraged me — he was a member of The Pride for four years — and he encouraged me to do that,” Roerig said. “There’s not a lot of schools that have two students from the same high school in The Pride. That just speaks to the foundation we had at Heelan. We’re continuing to see that legacy play out. That speaks to the strength of the Heelan Music Department.” 

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