By Julia Applegate
On Thanksgiving Day, most people in the town of Fort Mill were preparing a huge feast, or perhaps spending time with family and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Of course for those in the Nation Ford High School band, you would have been marching in the Macy’s Parade.
When the band was invited in April of 2010, the teens were excited to be included in such an honor, but they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. In the months that followed, the big question for Nation Ford’s band was: how they were going to raise the money. The band had to raise a total of $160,000 in order to perform. The students and parents had to come together to coordinate some serious fundraising.
“We tried everything,” the band’s booster club president Linda Tennant said. “Every week has been something else.”
The band students had to pay an additional $950 called the “Macy Fee” which is how the majority of the money was raised. The parents and students sold concessions at major events including the Carolina Panther’s games, Charlotte Knights’ games and concerts held at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and Time Warner Cable Arena. The students then sold fruit, pastries and coupon books and hosted an oyster roast. The rest of the money was donated by Macy’s partner businesses, other corporate or private donors. The last of the money was scraped together when the former Harlem Globetrotters took on a team of local citizens in a charity basketball game. They had finally raised enough money; now all they had to do was perform in front of millions of people.
The students spent the last few weeks tediously perfecting the songs that were to be played in the parade. These songs included: “Carolina in the Morning,” “Papa’s got a Brand New Bag,” “The Twist,” and “Carolina On My Mind.” The band spent six days in New York City preceding the parade and toured places like Central Park, the Rockefeller Center and saw a show on Broadway. On the morning of the parade, every band student had to be up and dressed in their uniforms by 1:45 a.m. although they had until 9:00 a.m. before they stepped onto the route. The 85th annual Macy’s Day Parade was under way and the Nation’s Ford band played Carolina themed songs until noon that day. The route was three miles long and was televised by several networks.
“The key to our success is we are like a family with that common goal,” Tennant said, “that’s what really gets people out there working and busting butts.”
So finally the parade was finished and Nation Ford’s band could revel in the fact that they were the first marching band from Fort Mill since 1989 to go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.