South Dakota float in NYC parade is costing more but remains a good value, officials say

Capitol News Bureau

Photo from South Dakota Department of Tourism. Courtesy of the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Department of Tourism agreed to pay nearly a quarter-million dollars to show off South Dakota in a nationally televised parade last month.

The entry fee was $240,000 to have the South Dakota float participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade held November 28 in New York City.

The record amount included a deposit for country musician Chris Young to ride on the float and sing from it.

Insuring the float cost another $8,004.92 and shipping the Mount Rushmore mascots was $800 round-trip.

NBC-TV showed the parade. It drew an estimated three million people to watch live along the streets of Manhattan and a broadcast audience of 50 million.

State government has sponsored a South Dakota float in the Thanksgiving parade during the past three administrations.

Mount Rushmore Float Receives Warm Reception In Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The entry fee and talent deposit for band Mannheim Steamroller in 2010 totaled $155,000. U.S. Senator Mike Rounds was in his last year as governor.

Earlier that month his lieutenant governor, Dennis Daugaard, won the governor election. Daugaard announced tourism would return to a stand-alone department. It had been part of a joint Department of State Development and Tourism under Rounds.

Daugaard also brought back Jim Hagen as tourism secretary. Hagen had served as state development and tourism secretary for two years during the Rounds administration.

Governor Kristi Noem kept Hagen in the post after she took office in January.

“This is a tremendous partnership opportunity to showcase South Dakota and provide exposure to our state’s great assets,” Noem said in a statement last month.

“Our family has been longtime fans of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and it makes me proud to see South Dakota’s continued presence in this annual tradition,” she continued.

The 2011 entry fee and talent deposit, for popular singer Neil Diamond, again cost $155,000.

Several Black Hills tourism entities helped pay for the appearances the first two years, said Katlyn Richter, communications director for the department.

“The continued partnership with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has remained a valuable and strategic component of the Department of Tourism’s marketing and public relations plan,’ Richter said in a statement.

“Participation in the parade allows the Department of Tourism to literally reach every market in the US. In essence, we’re buying a guaranteed 60-second commercial in every market in every state at a fraction of the cost,” she continued.

“By buying into a national event, we are reaching markets we couldn’t otherwise reach. The cost of the parade is roughly 1.7% of the overall Department of Tourism budget,” Richter added. “This is the perfect opportunity for South Dakota to get its largest visitor attraction (Mount Rushmore) in front of millions of potential travelers.”

The Legislature appropriated about $16.2 million for the department last winter. That includes about $12.6 million from the state tax on visitor good and services, and about $3.1 million from Deadwood gambling taxes.

Here are annual entry fees and talent costs for the South Dakota float other years, along with artists:

2012 – $205,000. Don McLean.

2013 – $180,000. The Summer Set.

2014 – $205,000. NEEDTOBREATHE.

2015 – $205,000. MercyMe.

2016 – $230,000. Ben Rector.

2017 – $230,000. Smokey Robinson.

2018 – $233,000. Kane Brown.

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