Thanksgiving Day parade AP file

In this Nov. 22, 2018, file photo, the Olaf balloon floats past Radio City Music Hall during the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

By the time their Chippewa Valley families and friends see five Memorial High School seniors marching in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the students will have been awake for about 36 hours.

But for Julia Nick, Maria Cruciani, Cole Pecor, Sophia Konzen and Joe Dasher, months of planning and a 3 a.m. dress rehearsal this morning are all worth it.

After spending a week in New York, the five Memorial juniors and seniors will march alongside 235 other high school musicians from around the country in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band to perform “Christmas on Parade” in the 93rd year of the celebration.

“It’s been a great week, we’re having a lot of fun. We don’t get a lot of sleep,” said Eric Dasher, Memorial band director, in a Tuesday phone interview with the Leader-Telegram from New York.

For senior Julia Nick, who plays the trumpet, returning to New York after marching in the parade her sophomore year is “an honor.”

“It was just an amazing experience to walk down the streets of New York, literally just you and your band, and so many people on the sidelines,” Nick said.

It is the sixth year in a row that Memorial students have marched in the parade, Dasher said.

“They’re choosing the best from each state, and there are usually fewer than 10 students per state that come. Sometimes we’ve been the only students from Wisconsin,” Dasher said Tuesday. “For us to be chosen is pretty neat.”

Dasher’s son, Joe Dasher, is marching in the parade today for the first time.

“I was pretty excited, because both my sisters had gone before, so I was kind of living the legacy,” Joe Dasher said.

To apply to the band, students begin preparing in January, submitting a recording of a solo performance in March, Eric Dasher said.

Eau Claire schools Superintendent Mary Ann Hardebeck praised the students’ work at a Nov. 18 school board meeting.

“I want to also recognize Eric Dasher for his outstanding work and inspiring students to achieve this honor,” Hardebeck said.

The Macy’s Great American Marching Band is participating in the parade for the 14th year, according to the parade’s website. Ten other marching bands, along with giant balloons, floats, dancers and more will participate in this year’s parade.

Watch the parade from 9 a.m. to noon today on NBC or via livestream at Macy’s website,

Contact: 715-833-9206,, @bysarahseifert on Twitter