Band managers take on challenge of coordinating Macy’s Day Parade performance

By Jaclyn Bryson

Alyson Villard / Courtesy of UMass Minuteman Marching Band

This article is part four in a series on the UMass Minuteman Marching Band as they prepare to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

During this time of year, the biggest concern for most students is getting through the end of the semester.

But for Rebecca Baturin and Alexis Sabol, it’s figuring out how to get 400 students on seven buses through Thanksgiving Day traffic in New York.

“We’ve never been to New York City as a band,” Baturin said. “It’s not going to be easy.”

Baturin, a senior, and Sabol, a junior, are both co-band managers of the University of Massachusetts Marching Band. According to Baturin, the job requires them to supervise a staff of 35 students who run the day-to-day operations of the band.

“We have a uniform staff, we have a personnel manager, equipment staff. We kind of oversee all the mangers that run those individual staffs,” she said. “It’s definitely an on-the-fly job. It’s like figuring out problems, and getting stuff done.”

But with the band performing in the upcoming Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, there is more they need to do, like coordinate transportation to New York, get copies of music from the library manager and check in regularly with the public relations staff, to ensure that the band is ready for their televised performance.

“It’s a lot of work, but I don’t think the band would be able to function without an (administrative) staff and without some sort of student leader in charge of it,” Baturin said. “So it’s definitely worth the effort that we put in.”

As students, Baturin and Sabol also said that balancing schoolwork and band management can be challenging. Baturin added that they also have office hours, so one of them needs to be available at all times.

“There are some days where it’s very easy and some times where you have to climb ahead and make sure you are fulfilling your duties as a student and a band manager,” Sabol said.

And since both Baturin and Sabol play the clarinet in the band, they have to prepare to perform in the parade alongside their fellow band members. In order to get ready, they have to master their parade march routine, something the band is not used to.  Despite their numerous administrative duties, Sabol stressed that it is still important for them to make time to practice for Macy’s.

“Whenever we have rehearsals, we put usually 100 percent effort into getting our (administrative) staff work done first so that we can be present at rehearsal,” she said.

Despite the work they must put in before their debut in the parade, both Baturin and Sabol agreed that it would all be worth it. Baturin said that when the band played at other schools in the past, they would sometimes sleep in a school gym in exchange for their performance.

“It’s the biggest sleepover of your life,” Sabol said.

Now, for their performance at Macy’s, since the Chancellor’s office has provided some funding for the trip, they are getting better accommodations and feeling more appreciated.

“We are actually staying in a hotel as opposed to sleeping in a gym of a high school, which will definitely make the trip more fun,” Baturin said. “It feels like we are getting recognition for our efforts.”

Sabol added that while people only see a small portion of their performance on television, she is looking forward to besting the cold weather and completing the three-mile parade route.

“Everyone keeps hyping up the television performance which is only one minute and 15 seconds,” Sabol said. “But the whole hour that we are marching down Sixth Avenue is going to be the best part of the entire parade.”

When the band marches through New York City on Thanksgiving, both managers hope that viewers and participating band members will have a new appreciation for UMass after their performance.

“A lot of times we say that the UMMB is our family, but I think that a lot of times people forget that UMass is our bigger family,” Sabol said. “I hope that with Macy’s we go out and we see UMass alumni and our chancellor supporting us and other faculty, and we realize that we are part of the bigger picture.”

Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at [email protected]