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May 10, 2017

UMass marching band to march in Macy’s Day Parade

Samantha Webber/Collegian

Samantha Webber/Collegian

When freshman drumline member Paul Downing went to the George N. Parks Marching Band Building yesterday morning to play at a meeting, he thought it would just be business as usual.

Instead, there was a special announcement for members of the Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band – they would be marching in the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“People broke into applause immediately,” said Downing, who had been told that the meeting would start the 150th anniversary celebrations for the University of Massachusetts.

“Everyone started cheering, and everyone got so excited. I turned to the person next to me and my jaw dropped and my eyes were open, we were all so excited, there was a feeling of elation in the room,” said freshman clarinetist Alexis Sabol.

The announcement was made by Wesley Whatley, creative director of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and head of the Parade’s Band selection committee.

“We are so thrilled to welcome the Minuteman Marching Band into our band family as they prepare to perform in the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Whatley in a University press release.

While the official meeting lasted approximately 15 minutes, people lingered for longer, according to Sabol.

“A lot of us stayed around for a while after, we were all just so excited, we were all talking about all the plans, and all the things that were going to happen, too excited to go to class actually,” she said.

The announcement was a dream come true for students, such as Sabol, who grew up in White Plains, N.Y., about 25 miles northeast of the parade location.

“I grew up watching the Rockettes and … Broadway shows,” said Sabol. “I always wished I could be a part of that and never thought it could happen, and now I get to do it.”

This will be the band’s first time marching in the annual event, according to the release.

“The Minuteman Band has a proud history, but this is something we’ve never done before. The selection is a fitting tribute to the many great people who have made the Minuteman Band what it is today,” said band director Timothy Anderson in the release.

According to a MassLive article, 2013 was the ideal marching date for the band as the University will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. However, it is a disappointing marching date for some juniors and seniors, who will graduate before they get a chance to march.

“A couple of the upperclassmen were bittersweet about it, they were sad,” said Sabol.

The band, known as the “Power and Class of New England” was one of 11 marching bands chosen from over 150 applicants nationwide, according to an ABC40/Fox6 news article.

“Being selected for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a great honor for the Minuteman Marching Band,” said Anderson in the release.

The parade – which occurs in New York City on Thanksgiving morning – annually draws over 50 million television viewers and 3.5 million live viewers, according to the release.

Katie Landeck can be reached at

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