• A seriously sizzling sax section, including (from left) freshmen Courtney Cocuzza, Allison Hopman, Margaret Kalczuk and Dorothy Rossmiller, and junior Evan Coberly
  • It wouldn’t be a marching band without a bass drum, as senior John Caldwell well knows
  • Director Brian Phillips urged his band not to play too edgy, but with “a nice, floaty tone. You are between buildings in a street”
  • Sophomore Abbie Meyers lets her Rockford Rams flag fly high
  • Junior Jacob Umlor totes the baritone with gloves to keep his fingers warm
  • Proudly playing their horns are sophomore Camden Ferguson, left, and freshman Isaac Gould
  • Playing their mellophones at a recent rehearsal are, from left, juniors Alexandria Hopman and Emily Olender, senior Grace Brown and juniors Haley Yeager and Amanda Rawlings
  • Sophomore Natalie Hammer is one of 300-plus Rockford Marching Band members making the trip to New York City

Hey Snoopy, Here Comes Rockford!

State Champion Marching Band to Play Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

by Charles Honey, photos by Dianne Carroll Burdick  

Ever wonder how it would feel to march and play in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Members of the Rockford High School Marching Band can tell you exactly how: nervous and excited.

"I'm nervous about it, but it's also super-exciting," says junior Paige Bristol, one of 308 band members who planned to march in the nationally televised pageant this Thursday. "So many people are going to see it, and you only get one shot to do it."

Senior Nicole Vezina seems to embody the band’s spirit of joy at going to New York City "It's incredible, and it's really nerve-wracking," added freshman Jessica Gluth, Paige's comrade in the color guard.

About 3.5 million live spectators and 50 million viewers are expected to see the storied parade in New York City. About 1,100 of them will be from Rockford, with family and friends joining band members who traveled on charter buses for a weeklong stay.

The band was selected from among nearly 200 applicants to perform as one of 10 marching bands, largely because of its sophistication and "commitment to artistry," a parade official said in announcing the honor in 2016.

Coming off their state championship performance in Detroit Nov. 4, band members are pumped about taking their first-rate program to a national stage. Besides playing three numbers in the parade, the band was also slated to perform Tuesday in Central Park -- an added treat for the hometown crowd, said director Brian Phillips. Plus, students will see "Wicked" on Broadway, the famous Rockettes and have Thanksgiving dinner with their families on a harbor cruise.

Senior Veronica DeMaet couldn’t be more elated to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade "It's something that they'll never forget," Phillips said.

That's for sure, said junior Emily Olender. Holding her mellophone at a recent rehearsal, she envisioned marching between the skyscrapers of the Big Apple, with Snoopy floating overhead.

"The sound is going to resonate a little bit more, and that will be cool to hear," Emily said. "And everybody will be like really excited, because it's Christmas right around the corner."

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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The band’s Macy’s parade performance is a wonderful swirl of color and sound

The band rehearses their feature number in the parade, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

At 53 members strong -- the largest in Michigan, says director Adam Bogema  -- the color guard is a vital part of the marching band

Junior mellophone players Ben Schmidt and Emily Olender are both nervous and excited about playing in the Macy’s parade

No one will be sitting down when the band marches through New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Rockford Marching Band members warmed up on a chilly night in a recent rehearsal at Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium

Are they pumped for the parade? Yes they are: from left, senior McKenna Schlaud, sophomore Natalie Hammer, and freshmen Gioia Arcidiacono and Amelia Sundman

Submitted on: November 21st 2017

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