NEW YORK (KMSP) - For many, Thanksgiving traditions start with watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Thursday morning, many Minnesotans watched extra close to see the Rosemount High School marching band perform on the streets of New York City.
The school is no stranger to big stages. The 10-time state champions performed at the Rose Parade in 2014, but this is the first time the band has been invited to perform in the Macy’s parade since 1989.
“I watched it on TV ever since I was a kid and to be part of something like that was just amazing,” said Emily Huntley, the band's drum major.
Still riding the adrenaline high just a couple of hours after marching the streets of Manhattan and performing in the Macy’s 91st Thanksgiving Day parade, Rosemount High School band director Bojan Hoover and Huntley spoke with Fox 9 from their hotel in New York City.
“We told the students this is probably the most people they will ever perform for in their lifetime,” said Hoover. “Soak it in and enjoy the moments.”
With more than three million people lining the streets and millions more watching from home, Hoover and Huntley pointed out the few seconds the band appears on TV is a fraction of what it takes to get there. Alarms for the 270 band members went off at 2 a.m. Thanksgiving morning in order to be ready for a 4 a.m. rehearsal in front of Macy’s.
“We get about 10 minutes just to rehearse for the TV cameras, so they can get their shots lined up and students can feel comfortable marching in,” said Hoover. “Then we had breakfast after that. I would say most the marching band fell asleep at the table.”
A long day, but worth every second. Marching along the two-and-a-half stretch, Huntley says she had to pinch herself.
“It felt like a dream, like you said it was so surreal and it’s not something you do every day,” she said. “And so to have that happen just blows my mind.”
Since arriving in New York Saturday, band members have soaked up their New York experience, taking tours and visiting the 9/11 museum.
“On Tuesday, we did a Broadway show which was mind blowing,” said Huntley. “My first, crazy to see.”
But nothing will compare to being in the parade, which took a year-and-a-half worth of planning and more than $600,000 worth of fundraising for travel expenses. This group is the first to admit they have a lot to be thankful for.
“To be able to march down a foreign street and not know anyone, but also see Rosemount signs and see our parents on the sidelines cheering that was magical for us,” said Hoover. “We are very proud of the students and overwhelmed with support we’ve received from the community and our parents.”