Two Waterloo High School students have plans to spend Thanksgiving in New York City.
Marina Lyon and Jae Wu have both been selected to participate in the 97th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as members of the Macy’s Great American Marching Band.
Marina, who was accepted on alto saxophone, and Jae, on piccolo, had a similar reaction upon receiving their acceptance emails.
"I cried,” said Marina, a junior who was sledding when her phone buzzed with the news several months ago.
“I cried and I was shaking,” said Jae, a senior who planned to audition for more than a year.
The Macy’s Great American Marching Band was started in 2006 and includes 185 high school musicians and about 40 flags and dancers from across the United States. Auditions for the band opened on Jan. 15 and Marina and Jae, being new applicants, were required to submit a video that showed them performing a Grade III-V solo of at least three minutes as well a video demonstrating marching fundamentals.
Marina estimates that she spent 150 hours preparing for her audition. Waterloo High School Band Director Ryan McKenna helped both students prepare by videotaping outdoor marching auditions. Additionally impressive is that both students are performing secondary instruments as Marina’s main instrument is clarinet and Jae’s is flute.
“I am extremely proud,” McKenna said. “Having the opportunity to work with students like Marina and Jae is why I am here every day.”
Band members will leave their hotel at 3:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning for an early morning run through for the NBC cameras. The parade starts at 9 a.m. and attracts about 3 million spectators and a worldwide television audience of 50 million each year. Band members return to their hotel after the parade for Thanksgiving dinner and a dance.
Jae and Marina each marched in the 2019 Veterans Day Parade in New York City and are looking forward to returning to the Big Apple for a week that includes music, sightseeing and fun.
“I am really excited,” Marina said.
“We have been planning it out together,” Jae said.
Both benefitted from advice from Waterloo graduate Kim Fish, who participated in the 2019 parade. “I am elated,” said Waterloo Music Department Chair Vivian Becker. “This is a great opportunity and I am super excited for them.”