GREENDALE, Wis. — The Greendale High School Marching Band will hold a public sendoff performance this weekend, before departing for New York City. Nearly 200 students strong, the band is one of only 12 marching bands across the country invited to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year.
“There’s normally 100-150 groups that apply in any given year,” explained Tom Reifenberg, Director of Bands. He’ll be leading Greendale to its second Macy’s appearance, with the band first marching in the annual tradition in 2016. “You have to be chosen on your creativity and your performance style. They look for a variety of groups across the country.”
The band will march the two-and-a-half mile parade route playing “Hooked on a Feeling.” Reifenberg hopes the crowd lining the streets, expected to be some 2 million strong, will sing along. At the end of the route, the band performs on the Macy’s Star for the national television audience. Music from “The Lion King” is the featured selection as the band is “…trying to appeal to a wide range of audience members, the televised part, 45 million people around the world watching this event.”
“It’s a little nerve-racking to be on such a big stage,” senior color guard performer Samantha Serenac said. “It goes to show how good our program is and how much we all work to preserve that standard of greatness.”
Fellow senior Ari Scheuer agrees and feels the band is up for the challenge. “It’s the first time I’ve ever gone to New York, so being able to do that with the biggest parade on earth and being able to participate in that I think will be a lot of fun.”
It will also be a lot of work. The band will see the sights in the Big Apple, but Thanksgiving day actually begins early Thanksgiving morning. NBC, which broadcasts the event live, wants to see every band do its show before the parade steps off. “They run all the bands through the actual performance star,” Reifenberg said. They try to have that done by 4:00 AM, “…so the kids are up at 1:00 AM going down to 34th Street, Harold Square to practice.”
TMJ4 will carry the broadcast of the parade locally beginning at 8:30 on Thanksgiving morning. The public is invited to a performance and send off at the high school beginning at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon. It’s free to attend.