M2 takes Manhattan

Marching Mizzou appeared in the 2022 Macy’s parade, adding to its legacy of performances around the world.

Published on Show Me Mizzou December 16, 2022
Story by Sara Bondioli, BA, BJ ’05

Marching Mizzou in the Macy's parade
Photo by Allison Davis

You might have seen a familiar black-and-gold logo at the start of the recent Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That’s because Marching Mizzou (M2) made its parade debut on the streets of New York City.

The band took advantage of its first-ever march through Manhattan. The day before the parade, members of M2 appeared on NBC’s The Today Show. Then, on Thanksgiving morning, the band helped open the festivities when, to a televised audience of nearly 28 million viewers, it supported singer-actor Lea Michele during her opening performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from the Broadway musical Funny Girl.

M2’s appearance was modeled after its usual Homecoming parade sequence of traditional school songs and drum cadences, with the addition of a portion of “Missouri Waltz.” Most prominently, NBC and streaming service Peacock featured the band’s performance of alumna Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do.”

Bringing the group — 350 strong, including band, drumline, feature twirlers, color guard and the Golden Girls — to New York City was a goal for Marching Mizzou Director Amy M. Knopps, BM ’01. She has always loved the holiday parade and was a drum major in Marching Mizzou when the group had another memorable performance out east: President George W. Bush’s inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. On Thursday, parade co-host Hoda Kotb even gave Knopps a shout-out.

M2’s first international trip came in 1975 when the late Alex Pickard, then-director of the band, took the group to England to perform at a soccer match at Wembley Stadium. “They really had never seen a marching band perform before,” recalls clarinet player Bill Moyes, BS ’75, M Ed ’79, EdSp ’83, EdD ’92. “By the end of the show, we had them on their feet, and they were yelling and screaming.”

band playing
Marching Mizzou's 2012 performance in Dublin.

In 2012 and 2016, the band crossed the Atlantic Ocean again, this time to perform at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin. Brianne O’Sullivan, BHS ’18, who was a trumpet section leader in 2016, attended the parade in New York.

“Being able to watch Marching Mizzou on a worldwide stage in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was something I will never forget,” O’Sullivan says. “It made me very proud to be an M2 alum!”

Knopps still reminisces about the band’s D.C. trip during every presidential inauguration: “Personally, I have that memory. And that’s what I’m so excited about for our students: Now, when they get up on Thanksgiving morning, they’re going to be like, ‘Oh, remember when I was in Marching Mizzou? We were part of that holiday tradition.’ ”

band practicing
Anders Harms (left) and Isaac Rivera (right) practice their drumline routine at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City before the marching band’s halftime performance September 15, 2022.
Marching Mizzou Thanksgiving Day parade rehearsal
Marching Mizzou (M2) made its Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in grand fashion Nov. 24 in New York City. Helping to open the festivities as singer-actor Lea Michele belted out “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from the Broadway revamp of Funny Girl, M2 was selected from more than 100 applicants as one of nine marching bands to march in the 96th edition of the annual holiday parade. Later in the televised broadcast, what NBC co-host Hoda Kotb called “the massive and impressive” 350-member Marching Mizzou, joined by the drumline, feature twirlers, color guard and Golden Girls, played alum Sheryl Crow’s party jam “All I Wanna Do.” Over the 2.5-mile parade route, Marching Mizzou also rocked “Fight Tiger,” “Every True Son” and the “Missouri Waltz,” sometimes stretching as long as one-and-a-half football fields as it made its way through the city streets. Photographer Allison Davis shot this image during early Thanksgiving morning rehearsals.

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