The fall brings an array of weird smells and cool days, from beautiful turning leaves, the smell of the cool crisp air, pumpkins, tasty candy corn and apple pie … and to me (when I was in high school) it was the season of marching band! Yes, I was a band nerd, and proud of it. I marched all four years at Castle High School in Newburgh, Indiana (a suburb of the big metropolis of Evansville for those of you who don’t know where that is). Now – Castle’s rival marching band was none other than, Carmel High School’s Marching Greyhounds. And to my surprise, when I went searching for one of the Carmel band directors to interview for this story, I found fellow Castle classmate and marching band member extraordinaire Chris Kreke working as an Associate Director of Bands. Chris played the Clarinet, as did I, and was also the drum major for a few years. (And on a side note: Chris also went to my elementary school growing up and his dad was our principal. What a small world.) Neither of us ever thought we would ever associate ourselves with our rival band. Now, we’re both fans!
So on with the story … CHS Marching Greyhounds has been selected from hundreds of applicants to march in the 85th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City! Only 10 distinctive bands are selected each year to perform on the small and narrow streets of the city amongst elaborate floats, performance groups and giant balloons. “This is the first year we applied to march in the parade,” said Chris. “We have been to New York City with the band several times, but never to march in the Macy’s parade.” Every four years the band takes one big trip. Four years ago they went to Hawaii; eight years ago they went to London; twelve years ago they went to Europe. So this gives you an idea of the extent of these “big” trips. Wow!
The band marches in several parades throughout the year and is always prepared for such events, although none can hold a candle to the Macy’s Parade. “There are a set of rules and guidelines to follow,” said Chris. “They are super organized; a manual outlining everything is given to us when we arrive.” Chris said they will start freshening up on the performance and song selections very soon, as “combining this with our fall marching schedule has been tricky.” A few weeks before the parade, they will have a set rehearsal schedule. “Richard Saucedo, the Director of Bands, wrote music specifically for this parade. He used a combination of Back Home Again in Indiana, and a few city specific songs such as New York, New York and On Broadway to create the perfect arrangement,” said Chris.
NBC has given each band approximately one minute and 15 seconds to perform “a mini-show.” Stars and Stripes Forever, a selection from the band Journey and the school song will be among others performed during the 2 ½ mile parade route, which will take approximately 45 minutes to complete. A few hours before the start of the parade–at roughly 2-3 a.m., the band will have an opportunity to rehearse their performance as sort-of a “pre-production” for NBC. “That will be a very interesting morning,” said Chris. “It’s the only time the streets are shut down.”
Marching in the parade will not be the only entertainment. “We will take in three shows, including Memphis, Wicked and the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall,” said Chris. “Our Thanksgiving dinner will be held on a harbor cruise which will tour around the island and the Statue of Liberty.” A visit to Chinatown, Little Italy and Ground zero will also be highlights of their trip. All of this fun begins on Monday before Thanksgiving, when they board their buses and begin their long drive east.
Have a great time kids! What an experience….
A few facts about the parade:
- 3.5 million people view the parade along the parade route
- 50 million viewers watch it on TV
- 10,000 people participant in the parade
- 150 marching band applications submitted – only 10 selected