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My Trip To The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

I will never forget walking into Howard Hall, the music building at Montana State University, on my very first day at college.  My mom had (selectively) forgot to mention that marching band was going to be a part of my Music Education curriculum.  I hated marching band in high school, and was horrified to find out I was going to have to spend 2 more years doing something I dreaded.
To make matters worse the football team was bad – REALLY BAD.  My first season in the marching band they did not win one home game.  NOT ONE! The band had a meesly 30 people in it and it got cold really early on that year. I had been asked to move from the saxophone section to help with the color guard- something I was pretty happy about.  At least then my outfits…rr uniforms…were a lot better.

Somehow I got through that first year and had mentally prepared myself for just one more season.  However, shortly into season two there was a change in the band.  Brad Fuester – the director – was on a mission to make this band something MSU had never seen before.  A native New Yorker, he was determined to take us to the Macy’s Day Parade…and he did.   He started adding members like crazy, and found funding from somewhere to help with the program.  It was hard for me to believe, but I was starting to dig marching band.  By the end of the season we were told that we were in fact accepted to march in the Parade the following year.  We would get to go on a huge trip to New York City, somewhere I had always wanted to visit!

Over the next year we practiced and practiced and practiced.  By this point there was over 175 band members and the sound was awesome.  The football team was still horrible, but we found ourselves drawing a crowd at half time nonetheless.  THEN came September 11, 2001.  The day none of us will forget.  Everything came to a halt.  After the shock of what had happened had started to set in, we all realized that something we had worked so hard for – the one performance you have looked forward to for so long – was probably done.  No one knew if we would make the trip just a few months later or not, but we continued to plug away.  I think it was late October when the city of New York came out and said that the annual Traditional of the Macy’s Day Parade would not be canceled, and that they felt it was the event to make the city feel like home again.

We performed at Cat/Griz and then all of us boarded 4 planes to the Big Apple.  The next seven days were some of the coolest of my life.  I got to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, the Rockette’s perform their Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, we got to be on the Today Show as the years feature band, and we got to see Times Square by walking down the middle of the street.  The trip also included a tour of Ground Zero.  At this point they were still in the massive clean up, and we saw the reality and horror that 9/11 brought to the people of New York.  For me, I didn’t know anyone on the east coast – and this was my time of reality of what happened.  I will never forget how it felt to be at Ground Zero – and in New York – at that time.

I am forever grateful for my time in the Spirit of the West Marching Band.  Insert dork joke here.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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