Thursday, November 22, 2007

macy s parade

ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago

NEW YORK - Giant balloons, balmy weather and enthusiastic crowds proved a perfect recipe as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade flowed through the streets of Manhattan.

"And we're going to see Santa. Did you know that?" Geiger told Lauren, eliciting a squeal.

Carrying banners and flags, parade participants gathered early on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The 81st annual parade started with a Michael Feinstein tune especially written for 600 kids from around the nation, whose opening number was choreographed by John Dietrich of the Rockettes.

The parade also marks one of two opportunities a year for Broadway to strut its stuff on national television. But for the cast of "Legally Blonde," the parade is a showcase without a show.

Four Broadway shows nabbed coveted positions in the parade. Along with the Tony Awards, it provides a yearly TV spotlight for the Great White Way.

"We're going to have a national spot on television, and we're going to be half represented," said Jerry Mitchell, the show's director and choreographer. "We're going to be the only musical performing without our props and costumes, which I find very disheartening."

The "Legally Blonde" performers did not cross picket lines by marching. A spokeswoman for their union, Actors' Equity, said anyone appearing in the parade falls under a TV contract with AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and thus is exempt from the work stoppage.

Some 10,000 people were among the marchers this year, half of them Macy's employees. The route winds from Central Park West to Herald Square, in front of Macy's flagship store.

Associated Press Writers Verena Dobnik and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

Eight local teens have made the trip of a lifetime to New York City and today will perform in the show of their dreams.

The girls are students of Danctastics School of Dance Hope/Prescott Studio and will be dancing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Studio owner Angie Reeder is still not certain how the girls were selected for the trip but believes it stemmed from their recent wins at national competitions.

"I think that's how we got the exposure," Reeder said. "We enjoy the competitions, but these type things are much more fun and meaningful. This is more exciting than any dance competition we've ever won."

Early in the year, Reeder received a mailed invitation for 10 of her students to perform in the parade with Mike Miller's dance troupe of Dallas. Two declined the invitation but the other eight will be marching through Times Square this morning.

The students go to school at Hope, Prescott, Murfreesboro, Spring Hill and Trinity Christian schools but all meet at Danctastics to learn jazz, ballet, tap, point, hip-hop and lyrical dancing.

They left for New York last Friday to arrive the weekend prior to the... MOUNTAIN HOME ― Five Mountain Home High School students will spend Thanksgiving far from home, rising well before dawn and then pounding the pavement for miles.

The students are among 250 young musicians, flag line members and dancers selected to lead the 81 st annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. They're part of the Macy's Great American Marching Band, whose members represent high schools from the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

They'll perform for an estimated 2. 5 million spectators who are expected to line the parade route, as well as millions of television viewers.

This is the second straight year these five students have performed in the Thanksgiving parade. The entire 125-member Mountain Home High School Marching Band was among ten school bands nationwide selected to march in the 2006 parade.

"It's a completely different experience," senior trumpeter Dakota Hardcastle said.

Last year, the Mountain Home band practiced for weeks before the parade.

This year, the five students had their music in time to memorize the songs but have had to learn the marching drills since arriving in New York earlier this week as Arkansas' sole representatives to the band.

The 250 students "had never marched together, never played together, anything like that," Sandy Kalbach, festival director with Music Festivals, a Reading, Pa. organization that hosts music competitions for high school students and was selected by Macy's to put together the Great American Band.

"They've had a very rigorous practice schedule," Kalbach said, adding that the students have impressed organizers with their talent and work ethic.

"I think the young people that we have are kind of the cream of the crop." The Macy's Great American Band will be under the direction of Jon Woods, marching band director at Ohio State University, and Richard Good, marching band director at Auburn University.

Mountain Home High School Band Director Tom Chentnik, who is chaperoning the local students, nominated them for the Macy's band.

Interviewed by telephone from their New Jersey hotel Tuesday, the students said they have made new friends and have been impressed with their new band mates.

Senior trombone player Kyle Markowski said he was particularly impressed by a fellow trombone player.

"He came from a private school and they have a really good band. But he's never marched in his life," Markowski said. "He's learned everything. He has the proper horn carriage. He stays in step. It's amazing that he can learn so fast, in two days of practice." The Mountain Home students also have learned to move a little differently, said senior Turner Pendergrass and junior Westin Sykes, both sousaphone players.

"This band is more of a show band kind of style, and we're more of a traditional style," Pendergrass said. Dustin Horton, a junior who plays the french horn, is the fifth student participating.

Band is a daily, 90-minute class at Mountain Home High School, supplemented by Thursday evening practices during marching season. Musicians in different sections also get together on their own time, and the flag line holds early-morning drills.

The Mountain Home band has earned the Sweepstakes Award from the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association for the last several years, receiving Division One ratings ― the highest possible ― in marching, concert and sight reading.

"Mountain Home is unique in that they have a band that is a large, quality program that on its own can get into Macy's," said Ken Martinson of Marching. com, an online resource for band directors, students, parents and fans.

He said the Great American Band allows musicians from smaller programs to participate in a world-class parade.

"That makes it doubly special for Mountain Home," Martinson


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