Out of thousands of applicants, Allison Dinger, junior music education major at California Baptist University, and her mother have been chosen to play with 250 selected band directors in the upcoming Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Over the past two years, Dinger has been hard at work practicing trumpet so that she can be ready for the iconic parade, a New York City tradition on Thanksgiving Day since 1924. One of the most considerable difficulties for her to overcome was the age difference between her and the rest of the players.
“Dedication was really important. I really thought about not doing it because I’m not a band director, technically, yet,” Dinger said. “I’m the youngest one. I’m 20. The youngest one above me is 29. So there’s a big gap. I was a little worried at first. I’m like, they’re not going to take me because I’m a music [education student], but I just kept practicing and just kept telling myself it was going to be worth it — and I got in.”
This success is even more remarkable because her mother, Jeannine Dinger, was also accepted to play in the parade.
“I wouldn’t be able to play the trumpet if it wasn’t for her,” Dinger said. “And now I get to march alongside of her at one of the biggest events during the holiday season.”
Because they are the only mother and daughter duo to play in the parade, Dinger described the event as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
“They don’t march in the parade every year. She’s about to retire. I’m just about to start my career,” Dinger said. “For us to do this as a kind of ending for her and a new beginning for me is super cool.”
Dinger also received much support from her professors throughout her time at CBU, who helped her along her journey to playing in the parade.
“I first met Allison in the course that I am teaching this semester, Introduction to Music Education,” said Dr. Angela Park, professor of music. “As we began the first class, Allison’s enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity were immediately apparent.”
Not only that, but Dinger’s drive had an impact on her classmates as well.
“She is the principal chair in five ensembles along with working as a private instructor during weekends, all while managing friendships, family and schoolwork,” said Chloe Robbins, junior music education major. “Although a lot of her hard work goes unnoticed, she never fails to put her best effort toward all of her endeavors, which continues to inspire and motivate me to be a better musician and overall person.”
Another issue that Dinger mentioned was the fierce competition. While it sometimes got tense, she found that her fellow students kept her on her toes and drove her to improve.
“It’s a little scary because it’s a little competitive,” Dinger said. “But if you can keep up with the competitiveness — and because it’s competitive — you have to practice and get better.”
Dinger also pointed out the amount of endurance that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade would require. Her trumpet weighs approximately 10 pounds, and Dinger must carry the weight for the entire parade and a subsequent TV appearance. She will also have to concentrate on staying on tempo with everyone else in the marching band.
“It’s a three-mile parade while marching at the same time,” Dinger said. “Three miles is a lot when you’re holding up an instrument and playing at the same time and keeping on the right foot. So that’s scary. I don’t know what I’m going to do if I’m on the wrong foot because you will get shunned by everyone.”
Though Dinger has some nerves ahead of a large event, she said she is also confident in her ability to play and values the time she has spent training. As she contemplated her journey, she offered advice for those attempting to get into musical performance based on her experience.
“If I got denied for this, I would have been disappointed, but I would realize that there’s more opportunities out there,” she said. “So keep practicing. Because when [auditions] come around, you’re going to be ready for it if you just keep practicing.”
Kicking off with a performance from the Grammy- and Oscar-winning musician Jon Batiste, the 94th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will air on NBC and stream on Peacock beginning at 8:30 a.m. in all time zones.