University town celebrates milestone with parade - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

University town celebrates milestone with parade

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USD is celebrating its 150th anniversary, though the state itself was only established in 1889. USD is celebrating its 150th anniversary, though the state itself was only established in 1889.

Thirty. That's where the mercury hovered at the start of this year's Dakota Days in Vermillion, S.D.

The more important number is 98. That's the number of years the town has celebrated "D-Days".

When Vermillion celebrates Dakota Days, it often means winter is right around the corner. For USD's student leaders, the pressure was on to make the day shine.

"Just knowing that we're having students, alumni, community members, all these people coming back for this, I think the pressure was definitely the hardest part of this," said Courtney Krcil, co-chair of Dakota Days.

For students, like Krcil and Susan Wick, that meant days of calling and writing alumni, encouraging them to come back for this celebration. Then, on the day of the parade, getting up early to prepare classic cars for the big parade.

"It was nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time," said Susan Wick, a USD student.

USD is celebrating its 150th anniversary, though the state itself was only established in 1889.

That meant the university was offering classes nearly three decades before South Dakota achieved statehood. Since then, alumni, including NBC's Tom Brokaw, have made the school proud.

"It's really important to bring them back to show the students how important USD is," said Krcil.

Several of those big names were back for the celebration.

"I feel like for me, it gives the students that are currently at the university, something to look forward to," said Darcy Leichner, co-chair of the Dakota Days celebration.

For many, it was surprising to see how filled the streets were, with alumni and community members, to see the parade and get ready for game day. 120 parade floats filled the streets, the most in recent memory.

"It's crazy to see how this year's just bigger than the other years have been," said Marisa Ruve, a USD cheerleader.

One thing never changes.

"We share the bond of being at USD and we all love it, and we've all enjoyed our time here," said Wick.

Brokaw was the grand marshal of the parade. He says he can remember watching the Dakota Days parade, but didn't dream of ever leading it.

Neither did his friends, given Browkaw's colorful description of his first year at the school.

"I did have kind of a checkered career here. I did make a recovery," said Brokaw. "A lot of my friends look at me and say, 'He gets to come back as the marshal?'"

Brokaw would go on to anchor the NBC Nightly News. He continues to work as a special correspondent for NBC. Monday night KTIV's Matt Breen talks one-on-one with Brokaw about his time at USD, what it taught him, and how it got him to where he is today.

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