Say “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” and you’ll likely stir up images of Snoopy, Kermit or Sponge Bob balloons or memories from childhood of sitting around the television while the smell of cooking turkey fills the living room.
It’s true Americana.
More than 40 million people watch the event worldwide, and millions line the streets of New York – rain or shine – to view it in person.
This year, Mesa’s Mountain View High School Toro Marching Band will step onto that international stage, only the fourth high school band from Arizona invited to participate in the 87-year tradition.
“I’m kind of nervous. I just barely got started (with the band) and we’re doing Macy’s,” freshman Tommy Oakes told the Tribune this week.
The high school students learned of their Macy’s invitation during an assembly in May 2012. All the fine arts students were gathered together and an unknown figure took the stage.
The man started talking about being from “the East Coast,” and then he mentioned, “New York.” A small rumbling filled the crowd. By the time he said ‘Macy’s,’ the room erupted, said senior drum major Dean Smith.
“It was a complete surprise,” he said.
In the past decade, the band has traveled to China, Ireland and Hawaii under invitations to perform.
But this trumps it all, said senior Manuel Dorado.
“This is bigger. It’s more well known,” he said. “It’s a big deal and I’m pretty proud and excited to be in it. I’m still working to get my (trumpet) section perfect for that day. Even though it’s only a minute and a half, they need to be perfect … they’ll notice every mistake you make. You have to give 110 percent.”
Though the band will march more than two miles along the route, one minute and 30 seconds is all that will be televised.
The students said the privilege to represent their high school, as well as Mesa and Arizona, is huge when they go to New York. So they want to look perfect.
Senior Brianna Brown said practice will be intense over the next few months as the band prepares not only for Macy’s, but for the state marching band competition, which will be held just days before the teens leave for New York.
“For the show, we have a drill book that shows you exactly where you have to be on the field and the football field has markings to follow,” she said. “Then we have the Macy’s drill. There are no yard lines on the road.”
When students are not on the field marching – practices start at 6:30 a.m. school days, with one weekly, after-school practice that goes late into the evening – the students are raising funds for the trip. Each needs to collect about $1,500.
Students and dozens of parents will leave for New York on Nov. 25 for five days. While in New York, besides the parade, students will do a night tour, visit the Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall.
Car washes and fundraising sales began months ago. A large golf tournament will take place in Sept. 14. And students are asking for extracurricular activity tax credit dollars from friends and families.
The band and boosters have developed several social media pages for people to learn more about the trip, as well as the fundraising. For information, see mvtbandboosters.com, facebook.com/mvhstoroband or follow on twitter @toroband.
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