JENISON, Mich. — A once in a lifetime opportunity for a group of students in West Michigan— the Jenison High School Marching Band is headed to New York City to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
They are one of just six high school bands nationwide selected to do so.
“Every single year, our family would watch it on Thanksgiving morning and we just, kind of, enjoy that as a family tradition. So now, we get to be in it, so it’s very different but exciting,” Jenison HS Marching Band Drum Major Nadia Ujlaky told FOX 17 Saturday.
“Jenison has done some other, like, big events. We’ve been to the Fiesta Bowl a couple times, and we go to the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis every year, but nothing quite like this in terms of the scope of audience and just the scale of the performance itself. I think it’s a huge event that really, obviously, the whole country is very aware of, so nothing along these lines before,” Jenison High School Director of Bands Dave Zamborsky added.
A performance like this not only takes a lot of preparation, but also, a lot of money.
The Wildcats set a fundraising goal of $100,000 to help get them to New York.
“Deep breaths and preparing ourselves by practicing, as you can tell. A lot of practice, a lot of marching and just running it over and over again,” Ujlaky said. “We’re very grateful and thankful for the people who helped us get here. We fundraised a lot, and it’s very expensive to go to New York for six days with almost 200 kids, so we’re very grateful for everyone who helped.”
“Just super proud of the students, our former students that helped get us here and the current students that have really worked very hard, you know, since June when we started marching band rehearsals,” Zamborsky added.
Aside from performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Jenison Marching Band will also get to experience New York by going to a Broadway show, performing in Central Park and seeing the Statue of Liberty.
“I think for most of the students, it’s probably their first opportunity to experience New York City and to do it with their band family, their band friends, and to be part of such an awesome performance and experience, I think is going to be a huge, you know, lifelong memory for them,” Zamborsky said.