Alumnus performs in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

PLAINVIEW — If you looked closely, you might have seen 2014 Wayland graduate David Rogers Jr. performing during the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Rogers, director of bands for the Hale Center Independent School District, was among 400 band directors from across North America who traded places with their students for a week to play in The Band Directors Marching Band in the New York City parade.

“It was so much fun getting to march two-and-a-half miles from Central Park down to Herald Square. Seeing the faces of so many people from all over the world to watch the parade was amazing!” said Rogers. “Also getting to see and be by so many celebrities was a cherry on top. I noticed a couple, such as Jimmy Fallon and Flava Flav.”

Rogers and the other band directors spent most of the week in New York rehearsing, sight-seeing, and performing at various sites. But the highlight of their time in the Big Apple was taking part in the 97th annual parade on Thanksgiving Day, the culmination of a day that started with a 1:30 a.m. call time for a 3 a.m. rehearsal at Herald Square, breakfast and line-up at 6:45 for the 8:30 a.m. parade. David was one of several sousaphone players in the band, which was featured on Fox and Friends on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in the lead-up to the parade.

“Being able to get back out and put myself back into the shoes of a student, I got to experience some amazing things,” Rogers said. “The first huge memory that I will forever cherish is the 9/11 memorial performance. It was so moving to be able to pay a tribute to those who lost their lives in that attack. When I was performing, I will never forget the goosebumps that I got from the collective performance.”

A native of Tulia, Rogers has been the director at Hale Center since 2018, having served as director at nearby Springlake-Earth ISD for three years and assistant director at Brownfield for seven months as a permanent substitute. While at Hale Center, he has grown the program significantly and recently led the Mighty Owl Band to the UIL State Marching Contest in San Antonio for the second straight year.

Rogers applied to be part of The Band Directors Marching Band for the parade in September 2022 and learned the next month he was accepted. He had to raise money for the trip — his first to New York, noting the support of the Hale Center community of his adventure. Rogers spent about a year practicing for the lengthy parade route, marching while carrying his heavy instrument.

While Rogers has been a longtime fan of the parade, which includes high school and collegiate marching bands from across the country, this was his first time to be a participant and not just a television a viewer.

“This experience was so awesome, and I hope by being able to do this that I can encourage someone to pick up an instrument, pursue music beyond high school, and maybe even be encouraged to be the next generation of music educators,” he added.

The Band Directors Marching Band is organized by Saluting America's Band Directors™, a project of the Michael D. Sewell Memorial Foundation. The band marched in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., in 2022 and was invited to march in the Macy’s Parade. According to the band’s website, the call for directors to participate was met with enthusiasm and the 400 maximum spots filled quickly.

Krystyna Mosqueda-Rogers, the band director’s wife, is a 2016 Wayland graduate. She serves as a teacher in the Hale Center ISD as well as an assistant to the band.