WCU Band Will Be In The Thanksgiving Day Parade

Nov 25, 2019

  You might see some familiar faces at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  For the second time, Western Carolina University’s “Pride of The Mountains” band will march in New York City.  

It’s Friday afternoon and the band is running through its final rehearsal. 

The students line up on the brown intramural practice fields. The group is just trying to beat the rain clouds forming overhead. 

David Starnes, is the director of athletic band.  He says it’s incredible that the band was invited back after their 2014 performance. Officially, all performers have to wait 5 years to return to the parade.

“We got the call in March 2018 that we had indeed been selected and that it was a unanimous vote by the board - which is unprecedented,”says Starnes. 

Western Carolina’s will be the largest band to perform in the parade this year. There are about 535 students in the band -  and they are all taking the 14 hour bus ride up to New York City. 

“When we get to 34th Street at 4:10am for dress rehearsal, everything that we started with at the beginning of the year has gone 365 degrees,” says Starnes. “The concept is going to be a reality and I think that is going to be incredibly special.”

That concept is “Believe.” And yes, that is Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” that you have been hearing. 

BPR caught up with senior drum majors Keely Thomas and Spencer Childers at rehearsal.

Thomas says they have been preparing for this trip since last year.  

“I think it’s really exciting because there is just a wave of adrenaline going through all of the band members because we are just so excited to get on the bus tomorrow morning,” says Thomas, who is forensic science and chemistry major. 

Childers says that the band is ready. He’s a music education major. 

“Part of us has to be nervous but at this point we’ve been doing it over and over so I don’t think we are going to have any problems performing when we get there,” says Childers.  

As they run off to rehearse and pack Childers has one more thing to add: “Go Cats!”

If you want to catch the band live on television on Thanksgiving Day, Starnes says WCU is the 9th band in the parade.

Western Carolina University is a business sponsor of Blue Ridge Public Radio.