Last Thursday along the streets of New York City and on screens tuned to NBC, Tom Turkey opened Macy’s ninety-fifth Thanksgiving Day Parade. Following the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Blues Clues floats, 15 of JA’s senior cheerleaders and Accents performed with Spirit of America Productions’ dance and cheer groups.
“It was a fun experience, and I got to make a lot of new friends from all over,” said Elizabeth Castle. “It was super cold, but I loved making all of the little kids smile by waving at them and also seeing my cousins’ signs that they made for me!”
“I have been looking forward to this trip since I signed up back in the summer,” said Regan Felder. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, the girls arrived at orientation in New York City. The next five days were packed with rehearsals to perfect their dances for Herald Square and cheers to perform during the parade. “We had multiple practices with the girls who were participating in the performance. We learned a dance that was streamed to NBC Network, and we learned cheers to chant as we walked down the streets of New York.”
Apart from the shock of cold weather and being told to wake up at 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the experience ran seamlessly for the girls. “The only surprising thing that happened was that on Monday night when we were showing the NBC producers the dance, we expected for them to have a bunch of changes they wanted to make,” Kennedy McKee said. “But when we got back to the hotel, our choreographers told us they loved it, and there were no changes!”
In their free time, and particularly after the parade, the students enjoyed shopping, watching shows on Broadway, and storing up good memories for years to come. Gretchen Morris had an especially memorable experience; “Michelle Obama went to the same performance of Six on Broadway that we went to!”
“[Participating in the parade was] absolutely incredible!” Regan said. “As we walked down the streets of New York, crowds of people were literally everywhere— crowding the sidewalks and piled on balconies stretching up into the sky.”
Celebrating Thanksgiving in the city made eating a traditional meal difficult for the girls and their parents. After eating out in the city, one tradition held for Anna Claire Bush: watching the Egg Bowl. “After the parade, I and a handful of girls and families ate lunch at Carmine’s [Italian Restaurant], shopped and walked off our food, then came together to all watch the Egg Bowl. My favorite part [of the entire experience] was meeting people from all over America! I loved being with my JA friends but also meeting new ones everywhere we went! New York overall was great, so much fun!”