Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV is nice. But actually being in it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance a couple of local boys never expected.
Carolina Forest High School graduate Josh Turner, playing the sousaphone, and North Myrtle Beach High School graduate Shaun Brown, playing cymbals, will be part of the Western Carolina University Pride of the Mountains Marching Band this year.
That university is in Cullowhee, North Carolina.
Turner found out he’d be in the parade at the beginning of his senior year when WCU announced it online.
“It was like, ‘Oh by the way, you get to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,’” he laughed.
Marching along with 23 other sousaphone players, Turner, a freshman at WCU, said he’s definitely excited, not just about being in the parade, but about going to New York for the first time.
Originally from Ohio, Turner moved to Florida in his junior year of high school, and then moved back to South Carolina to continue with the CFHS band program.
He said the sousaphone “has cool parts that most instruments don’t, and it gives the band support.”
CFHS band director Mark Roddy said the sousaphone is similar to a tuba, and takes a lot of energy to play.
“It takes a ton of air to be able to play that instrument, and the sousaphones are the baseline of the show,” he said. “Without them, you wouldn’t have the low sounds.”
Roddy has nothing but praise for Turner, both as a student and as a person.
“He’s been like a son to me, he was one of the best students I ever taught,” he said.
Peter DiLeo, NMBHS band director, is equally proud of his prodigy and described Brown, who may want to be a band director, as a diligent hard worker.
“Shaun is a high achiever who worked really hard in high school, and it’s fun to have a kid that wants to follow what you did.
“That made him fun to teach and fun to work with,” DiLeo said.
Brown, whose home is in Longs, will be marching with 62 other cymbal players in the parade, and said the whole thing is “kind of surreal.
“I knew we were going, but I didn’t process it until we started having rehearsals and I realized I was going to be in something I’ve watched on TV for years.”
This is the second time the Western Carolina University band has been invited to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The first time was in 2014.
The 535-member Pride of the Mountains band is under the direction of David Starnes.
Both young musicians are as excited about having the New York experience as they are about the parade.
During their six-day visit, they’ll visit the 9/11 Memorial, they’ll see a couple of Broadway shows, they’ll go to Radio City Music Hall, and they’ll visit Rockefeller Center.
“And,” Turner added, “we have to get some of that New York pizza.”