VIDEO: School band learns it will play in Macy’s Thanksgiving parade


Just hours before school was out for the weekend, teachers called Park Vista High band members into the auditorium for a special announcement.

As students walked in, they took their seats with an inquisitive look as a group of reporters, armed with cameras and notepads, smiled back at them.

Only a few staff members knew what was about to happen, and they were sworn to secrecy.

VIDEO: Park Vista band learns it’s performing in NYC Thanksgiving Day parade

After they settled in, a man addressed the students, explaining that he had flown in to deliver some news.

“Do you want to hear why I’m here?” he asked them.

“Yes!” answered the impatient voices.

The man introduced himself as Wesley Whatley, the creative director for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And he flew in to invite the band to perform at the 2018 event in New York City.

And he said they would be the only band from Florida.

The teens cheered, clapped, screamed, threw their heads back and grabbed each other’s hands.

The Macy’s Parade Band Committee chose the Striking Cobra band — out of suburban Boynton Beach — from more than 100 applicants. The band is one of 10 that will perform in the parade’s 92nd year.

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“At first I heard New York and I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s amazing.’ Then I heard Macy’s Day Parade and I said, ‘Oh my God that’s even more amazing’,” said Stella Etienne, a sophomore who plays the flute.

Parade representatives gave the band a drum head that will be displayed on all drums during their Thanksgiving Day performance. And the students practiced another tradition: Before the event’s start everyone cheers “Let’s have a parade!” The students yelled it in unison and a sea of colorful confetti filled the air.

“I think it’s pretty crazy,” said Zach Martins, a junior drum captain. “Back when I was a freshman starting out, I never thought we’d be doing this.”

Unfortunately for Martins and the other juniors and seniors, the parade will take place in November 2018 — months after they graduate.

Still, Band Director Aaron Snipes said this is their “legacy.”

“This is our first time applying and you were selected. That’s huge,” he said to the group.

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Snipes said when he was a boy his favorite part of Thanksgiving was to watch the parade, and his dream was to perform in it. He said it’s his pleasure to help make that dream come true for his students.

“It only happens once in a lifetime,” he said.

Park Vista’s band is the first from Palm Beach County to perform at the parade since at least 2008, according to parade officials. Last year Macy’s invited the Dance Theatre in Wellington. Lake Worth High’s band performed at the parade in 1974.

Outside of the county since 2008, Florida bands have been invited from places such as Naples, St. Petersburg and Fort Walton Beach.

Snipes sent Macy’s a clip of the band at a national competition in Atlanta. One reason the band was chosen was its sophistication, Whatley said.

“They have a beautiful ability to just tell a story,” he said.

The band will play two or three songs while marching the two-mile route, and one of those songs will be shown on television when they stand in front of the Macy’s Herald Square store. The songs have not yet been chosen. Snipes also doesn’t know how much it will cost to fly everyone to New York. The school plans to hold fundraisers and ask the community for help.

Every year, more than 50 million people gather around the television to watch the parade, and more than 3.5 million make the hike into New York City to watch it in person.

Whatley has traveled to four other schools — in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia — whose bands will perform. He’ll visit the remaining five within the next several weeks.



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