Enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV this year, because next year, you’ll surely be watching the nationally televised 101st 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Our very own Carolina Forest High School Marching Panthers Band will be one of 19 bands from about a dozen states to participate in the 1.4-mile Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is the oldest in the country.
The cost is about $750 per student and band members will be raising money throughout the year to cover expenses.
Junior Cassidy Bean is one of about 200 CFHS students who’ll make the trip.
In band for seven years and in the CFHS band for three, the 16-year-old daughter of Judi and Dana Bean plays the flute.
But she’s learned a whole lot more from her band experience than how to make sweet music.
“By improving myself, I can constantly help other people be the best they can be,” she says.
“It’s cool,” she says, that the band will march in a nationally-televised parade, which she sees as “an opportunity to get [CFHS’s] name out there.”
Bean isn’t the only one proud of the school’s marching band.
“We’re one of the best bands in South Carolina and we’re in the top 20% of the nation,” said director of bands and ensembles Mark Roddy.
“People don’t realize that. We’re the best-kept secret.”
The CFHS Marching Panthers Band has competed three times this year: at McBee, St. James and Aynor, claiming the championship each time.
“We have the highest overall score in North and South Carolina,” Roddy said.
Competing in the Bands of American Regional Competition in Lynchburg, Virginia, in October, the CFHS band came in 18th out of 37.
The Pennsylvania event was organized by the Gimbel Brothers Department Store in 1920, and when the store closed in 1986, local television continued the tradition.
The parade is sponsored and aired by the ABC affiliate WPVI-TV and co-sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts. It will air locally on ABC and will also stream on www.6abc.com.
The parade is complete with traditional parade excitement, including the marching bands, celebrities, floats, mega balloons, and of course, Santa.
Roddy said parade organizers are the ones who select which music each band will play, and they provide the drill routine.
Each school’s band gets different music, and the CFHS Marching Panthers will start practicing for that event in June.
The biggest challenge he sees preparing to play in the parade is logistics.
“Moving that many kids, getting to hotel rooms and attractions, that’s the challenge,” he said.
Making sure the band does well is not.
“Years ago at halftime, people went to get hot dogs,” he said, “But now, they stay to hear this band.”
Band members rehearse an average of 25 hours a week, and Roddy said people just don’t realize the work ethic the kids have.
“You don’t get into a parade like this and be out of step. You have to be precise.”
The Carolina Forest High School music-makers are not just marching band members. There are also three concert bands, two jazz bands and several chamber music groups.
“Band is a sport now, it goes year-round,” Roddy said. “We’re a family and it’s a good place to be.”
Bean said, “Coming from a really small band in Massachusetts, I never heard of anything like this.
“It’s really opened my eyes to improving my own life and adding to the enjoyment of others.”