Chicago’s 89th annual Thanksgiving parade returned Thursday morning; a tradition many Americans tune in to each holiday. This year, Minnesota State’s own Maverick Machine marched through the Chicago streets for the first time.
MSU senior Genevieve Bellot recalls growing up in Chicago, going to the parade and watching it on TV. Only this year, she won’t be watching it, she will be part of it as a member of the colorguard.
“Being able to go and perform alongside a lot of people who were my mentors growing up is really exciting,” Bellot said. “Since I’m from Chicago, it’s not easy for them to come to Mankato. So I’m most excited for everyone who maybe hasn’t seen me perform in a while to be able to see me.”
Maverick Machine director Michael Thursby has been preparing the students for their Thanksgiving day debut, and said he is “beyond proud” of the group.
“They bleed purple and gold more than anybody I’ve ever seen in my life, and they deserve this type of an opportunity,” Thursby said. “Just to see them get this experience is so rewarding; it’s just so incredible.”
The Maverick Machine’s performed its show, “Home,” built around the Machine’s 10-year anniversary celebrated this fall. During Homecoming the band brought nearly 60 MSU alumni back to their roots, to perform alongside the current squad.
“I hope that when people hear our performance, they realize how important home can be, whether that is a place, a feeling, a group of people, or whatever else a person might feel is home to them,” said Alec Scherer, a fourth-year member of the Maverick Machine.
The band received an invitation from parade organizers after their return from Rome last year.
“When we went to Rome, it was awesome that we were able to be recognized internationally, so I am happy we finally are able to be recognized at a large event here in the states,” Scherer said.
Prior to their march, the Machine has spent hours rehearsing the set, studying the route, and practicing marching techniques. Transitioning from a field to the street has been a focus for the members.
“Instead of everyone coming to see the sport, they’re coming to see the band,” said Mitchel Pomije, fourth-year flute player.
Although band members spent their Thanksgiving away from family members and a home-cooked meal, a separate family is found within the band itself.
“It is my hope that our performance shows everyone that family can mean whatever is in your heart,” senior trumpet player Morgan Anderson said. “In the Machine, we are one big band family who go through the highs and lows together no matter what.”
The Maverick Machine has three core values as a program: family, pride, and excellence. All three helped guide the crew through their Thanksgiving performance, one that was a first for many students.
“This program is not mine. It’s not about me, it’s the students,” Thursby said. “That’s their program and I’m so excited to just see them experience it. It’s just great to see the students receiving recognition for all of the hard work and dedication that they put into our university.”
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Header Photo: The Maverick Machine marches down the streets of Chicago for its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, rated the second in the country according to TimeOut magazine. (Courtesy IT Solutions Video & Digital Media)