UMass band marches through New York City at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

By Shaina Mishkin

This Thanksgiving, the sounds of “Fight Mass” and “Sweet Caroline” could be heard up and down 6th Avenue as the University of Massachusetts’ Minuteman Marching Band paraded towards Macy’s Herald Square in New York City.

Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

Though the parade officially began at 9 a.m., UMMB members woke long before dawn on Thursday to begin their final parade preparations. Karen Podorefsky, a junior flute player and three-year marching band member, said she and her roommates woke up at 1:50 a.m. to be on the busses bound for Herald Square by 3 a.m.

“Being able to rehearse at 4 a.m. was like nothing I had ever done before,” she said. “We stood in the middle of the street waiting to sprint onto the star and go over our drill for only 10 minutes. The lights were shining on the buildings and it just felt surreal.”

For Emily Gluck, a four-year UMMB trumpet player and UMass senior, reality hit during this early morning practice.

“I never in a million years thought that I would be wearing the uniform that means so much to me on the streets that mean so much to me,” said Gluck, a New Jersey native. “As a senior, this is the last time many of us will ever put on a marching band uniform. For me in particular, it was a great way to go out.”

The band arrived at the Marriott Downtown in Manhattan around 3 p.m. the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Upon checking in, members had free time to explore the city. Rehearsals began the next morning, first in sectionals, then all together.

The band was slated to practice in a high school gym in New Jersey on Wednesday but rehearsed in the Downtown Marriott’s Grand Ballroom instead due to inclement weather.

“We sort of made do with what we had and it definitely worked,” said Gluck. “We taped the Macy’s star on the floor of the ballroom so we could practice the full Macy’s set.”

After arriving uptown around 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, band members warmed up in sections as they waited to be called to Herald Square for practice.  The band ran through their song “Big Noise from Winnetka” three times in front of Macy’s before heading back to the buses.

Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

After the band returned from practice at 5 a.m., members had an hour to pack and pick up breakfast before they returned to the buses, this time bound for Central Park West. Upon arrival, the band unloaded their instruments and warmed up outside the parade area.

“Some other bands were around; we all exchanged friendly words and wished each other luck,” said sophomore alto saxophone player John Coggeshall.

After waiting to step off, the band took to the parade route, following The Power Rangers and preceding Fall Out Boy.

Marching down the two-and-a-half mile parade route, the band ran through their repertoire multiple times, eliciting notably loud cheers when the band passed a section of UMass alumni while playing “Fight Mass.”

“The parade moved faster than other parades we did, but it was magical to hear and see so many people cheering. The performance itself felt like it was over in 10 seconds,” said Coggeshall. “[The feeling after the performance] is very hard to describe, but it is one of the best feelings I have ever felt in my life.”

“We found out that we were going in the Spring of 2012. A year and a half and hours and hours of preparation later, it is over. That’s crazy to think about,” said Podorefsky. “I watch the videos to relive the experience, but it is nothing like standing there performing for millions of people.”


Shaina Mishkin can be reached at [email protected]