Pride swelled at the arrival of Rosemount High School Marching Band.
Marching from the high school along Highway 3, the band arrived playing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" Saturday evening during a send-off celebration in the band's honor.
Rosemount police closed Highway 3 for a few minutes as the band marched in a parade led by Rosemount Fire Department, escorting Santa Claus who served as parade marshal.
The band has accepted marching orders — or a rare invitation — to perform in the legendary Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City Thursday, Nov. 23. TV viewers can see the band perform at 11:30 a.m.
The community showed up to give cheer on the band on a chilly night in the parking lot outside Rosemount Community Center. Legendary local parade announcer Chuck Brooks entertained the crowds as master of ceremonies, offering humor and band trivia to the crowd.
"Seriously, how awesome is this sight?" said Brooks, a retired English teacher and author of three storybooks about his love for Rosemount, its residents and the history of Rosemount High School.
First State Bank of Rosemount President Mark Toombs thanked all who helped put the event together, and he gave a warm congratulations to the band on this achievement and wished them well as they all embark on the trip to New York City.
"I am sure you will represent us very well, and we are thankful for being given the opportunity to sponsor the event," Toombs said.
The band will be the first Minnesota high school marching be selected in 29 years to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The marching band's 2017 show is entitled "Pride in the Past and Promise in the Future." This title was chosen to honor the iconic Statue of Liberty and celebrate the centennial for Rosemount High School that was recognized this year.
Mayor Bill Droste welcomed all to the seventh-annual tree lighting ceremony that was part of Saturday's festivities. He thanked the St. Joseph's choir that performed and introduced council members. The mayor thanked the Rosemount Area Arts Council for putting together the event along with support from the Rosemount Youth Commission.
The mayor introduced local dignitaries including U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, state Sen. Greg Clausen and state Rep. Anna Wills, along with Dakota County commissioners Joe Atkins and Chris Gerlach. Also in attendance for the celebration were district leaders, District 196 Superintendent Jane Berenz and John Wollersheim, principal at Rosemount High School.
Each band student will receive a special congratulatory certificate from Minnesota, according to Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who sent best wishes but could not attend.
Nineteen months ago, Rosemount High School students, band leaders and the band celebrated the news of being selected to perform in the Macy's Day Parade, Droste said.
"Best wishes as you march down Madison Avenue," Droste said.
Lewis congratulated the band and joked: "The great thing about the cold weather is that politicians do not speak very long."
Lewis said 200 bands from across the country applied to march in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and it is a feat the Rosemount High School Marching Band was one of only 10 bands selected to perform.
On behalf of Rosemount and the state of Minnesota, Lewis showed off the flag that will be flown in Washington, D.C, over the nation's capital in honor of the band.
Brooks asked band directors to stand on the platform stage to receive gratitude from the community for this achievement and the crowds cheered with great vigor and enthusiasm.
Brooks offered deep gratitude to the community of Rosemount for its outpouring of emotional and financial support and the "incredible parents" who have supported the band every step of the way.
The band will perform at 10:35 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, in front of millions of TV viewers and thousands in New York City.
Droste held his 3-year-old granddaughter as she pushed a button that lit the lights on a grouping of community trees on the border of the Rosemount Community Center parking lot.
Speaking to the band and the audience, Brooks said" You are the pride of this city and please congratulate your own hometown."
Clausen, who served as a principal of Rosemount High School for 15 years, shared a few words of the band and competitions.
"We say Rosemount High School Marching Band is the pride of Rosemount, and now we can say that Rosemount High School Marching Band is the pride of Minnesota," Clausen said. "There is something that I do not want people to lose in tonight's gathering, and that is to recognize over 250 students who have been working on a common cause for months and that is something that can be said about the learning that took place during that process."
Here is a video of the band produced by the Apple Valley/Farmington/Rosemount cable commission