West Virginia University’s football team is currently ranked 14th in the College Football Playoff rankings, but on Thanksgiving Day, the Mountaineer Marching Band will one up its pigskin counterparts.
Dakota Lineberry, a sophomore from Carroll County, will join his fellow West Virginia band members by marching in the 90th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on November 24. The WVU Mountaineer Marching Band will be the only collegiate band to play in the prestigious parade. All told, an estimated 3.5 million spectators and 50 million television viewers will watch Lineberry and his bandmates march down The Big Apple’s fabled 34th Street.
“It’s pretty mind blowing,” Lineberry said of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “There have been articles speculating we will possibly be the first band in the parade at the very front, which is pretty awesome. I haven’t heard for sure if we are the first or second band, but we should be fairly early in the parade.”
As a member of the Pride of West Virginia, another name for the Marching Mountaineers, Lineberry has already been afforded several unique opportunities in his short time in Morgantown. Last year as a freshman, Lineberry traveled with the band to Tempe, Arizona to perform in the Mountaineers’ 43-42 win over Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl. At the start of the 2016 football season, Lineberry and the Pride of West Virginia played at FedEx Field near Washington, D.C. for WVU’s 35-32 victory over BYU.
“That was a pretty fun trip. We stayed right outside of D.C. and got to go to the city the day before the game. It was a lot of fun to go in and look around,” Lineberry said. “Next year should be another fun trip back when we play Virginia Tech at FedEx.”
The Pride of West Virginia will have the opportunity to stay in Times Square and spend Wednesday taking in the sights and relaxing before an early and full day Thanksgiving. The band is scheduled to be in its TV spot for a 3 a.m. rehearsal with NBC’s camera crew. The band will open the parade at 9 a.m. and is expected to move into the televised spot on 34th Street at 9:50 a.m. Thursday.
A 2015 Carroll County High School graduate, Lineberry originally wanted to attend Baylor University and perform in the Bears’ band after being accepted into the Waco, Texas school. A member of the CCHS marching and concert bands for four years, Lineberry decided John Denver’s “Country Roads” was more his style after CCHS Band Director Michael Farina invited Lineberry to join him one weekend at West Virginia.
“He said, ‘I’m sure once you see it you will change your mind, but if you don’t that’s ok.’ He took me up one weekend in November to visit a music building, meet my trumpet professor, to see one of the ensembles perform, and I got to go to marching band practice and watch them. It was a lot of fun and that was the deciding factor,” Lineberry said. “I knew pretty much as soon as I got back that’s where I wanted to be. So I applied, went for an audition, and that is pretty much how I got to West Virginia, all thanks to Mr. Farina.”
Farina said he’s really glad Lineberry made that decision because now he can see him perform without having to “drive all the way to Texas.” He couldn’t be more excited about all the opportunities his former student has at WVU.
“I’m proud that he went to West Virginia being an alumnus myself,” Farina said. “He is a hardworking kid and to see it pay off where he gets to perform on such a big stage, the fact that he gets to march at Macy’s is really cool.”
These are heady times for the Carroll County band program. Aside from sending an alum to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the current band members will receive quite an honor themselves on July 4, 2017. On that day, the CCHS Marching Band will represent Virginia in the nation’s capital for the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C.
The Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade will be televised Nov. 24 beginning at 9 a.m. The WVU band will load up the buses and head to New York City on Tuesday morning. Lineberry is excited to have a few days in New York City.
“We have a lot of fun things planned and we will come back Friday afternoon,” he said, adding that his time at WVU has been everything he thought it would be and more. “It’s just absolutely amazing here. I love the college, I love the city, and the people are just great. Contrary to popular belief, there are some of the nicest people here as long as you don’t say anything bad about the football team or the band. They love the band almost as much as the football team, so it’s awesome.”
Lineberry is the son of Darrell and Patricia Lineberry. He urged anyone wishing to help with the trip or the Pride of West Virginia Marching Mountaineers to donate to the Pride Travel Fund, which can be found online at www.pridetravelfund.com.
Allen Worrell can be reached by calling (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN