How Did the ORHS Band Earn a Spot in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

The Oak Ridge High School band is performing this Thursday morning in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo courtesy of Chuck Briese

The Oak Ridge High School Marching Band is in the big city of New York gearing up for their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade performance.

As told to Oak Ridge Now by ORHS band director, Jack Allen, we take a closer look at how this grand opportunity came to fruition and how they have prepared leading up to the big day.

 How did the band earn a spot in the Macy’s Parade?

 All bands that are in the parade apply for a performance opportunity by March 1st – 18  months before the parade.  We submitted an application that consisted of a performance DVD, director bios, band resume, newspaper articles, and photographs of the band.  There were over 160 bands that applied and 11 were selected for the parade.  High school, college, and professional bands applied, and we were one of the eleven that were selected from all over the world to participate in the 2012 parade.

What have you been doing to prepare? This is a big parade so you must have a lot of material to work on. 

We have mostly been conditioning the kids for the 2.5 mile parade route through Manhattan.  We have been marching 10 laps around our track every day to help build up their endurance.  We have also been learning the drill to our 1 minute 15 second show that we will perform on NBC.  We will perform this show at the game tonight vs. TWHS both to the home and visitor stands.

As far as music goes, we have been working on our music for the parade for over a month now.  We are the last band to march in the parade (save the best for last!!!) and we are bringing in Santa Clause.  Our parade theme is Winter Wonderland, so we have been playing Christmas music since the middle of October.

How did the band do in the regional competition earlier this month?

The band competed at the Bands of America Super Regional in San Antonio at the beginning of November.  The band had a great performance in the Alamo Dome in front of thousands of people.  Our score improved over the course of the season by about 5 points (pretty big in the band world), and we’re really proud of our kids for their hard work this fall.

Because you were in the band competition you had to miss the Lufkin/Oak Ridge game. When a conflict exists like your having a comp to go to, how do you collaborate with the junior highs to make sure everything goes off as smoothly as possible at the football game? 

We have awesome Jr. High Directors in Josh Gibson at Irons and Amanda Pritchard at York.   We had been planning this football game with them since May.  It’s a big stretch to get 300 Jr. High Kids ready for anything, but to have them be able to perform at a football game and do it well takes a lot of preparation.  

Mrs. Pritchard and Mr. Gibson and the York and Irons bands have been been looking forward to this game since we started talking about it last year.

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Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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