JMU's Marching Royal Dukes Perform in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

From: Public Affairs

The Marching Royal Dukes perform a football halftime show

Nov. 21, 2008

HARRISONBURG – The largest marching band in the history of James Madison University will represent the school in the 82nd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade® Nov. 27 in New York City. The 474-member Marching Royal Dukes marching band is one of 10 bands performing in the Thanksgiving tradition.

The JMU band will perform "Sing, Sing, Sing" in Herald Square and other selections along the parade route. NBC will broadcast the parade beginning at 9 a.m.

The band is slated to perform between 11 a.m. and noon.

“With JMU’s centennial, what better way to celebrate on a national scope than to feature the band program on TV,” said Scott Rikkers, assistant director of bands and director of the Marching Royal Dukes. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s good for the school, it’s good for the state, it’s good for the kids.” JMU, established in 1908, is the only university in America named for James Madison, the fourth president of the United States and the Father of the U.S. Constitution.

This year’s performance will mark the marching band’s second appearance in the holiday classic. In 2001, the Marching Royal Dukes represented JMU in the 75th anniversary Macy’s parade.

The Marching Royal Dukes date to 1972 when JMU established a football program. Membership in the Marching Royal Dukes is open to all JMU students, regardless of their academic majors. About three-quarters of the band members are not music majors.

“We’ve been revitalizing the program over the past couple of years and I think there’s definitely renewed excitement about the program,” Rikkers said. “I also think, of course, the Macy’s trip is a big draw.”

Contributing to the record-size band are 320 returning band members. “I’m glad to have that because they’re the strength of our program – they are the tradition,” Rikkers said.

All 474 band members will depart the JMU campus at approximately 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26, en route to New York City.

Shortly after viewing the Marching Royal Dukes in their New York appearance, local music lovers will have an opportunity to see the band live and up close in the Harrisonburg Holiday Parade Dec. 5. The band will march in the 6 p.m. downtown parade and will present a free public concert afterward on Court Square.

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