18 county grads participating in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Cody Dalton
Staff Writer

CULLOWEE, N.C. — Catawba County will be represented proudly on Thursday when the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place in New York City.
Eighteen people in the 540-member Western Carolina University “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band are Catawba County high school graduates, and they will be performing in the 93rd Annual Parade, which airs on NBC from 9 a.m. until noon on Thanksgiving Day.

Freshman Luke Canrobert is one of two Newton-Conover graduates who will be participating in the event, and he said the opportunity is surreal.

“I have been watching the parade with my family my whole life, and it’s crazy just to think that I am going to be in the parade,” said Canrobert, who plays alto saxophone. “Right now, it really hasn’t hit me that 100 million people will be watching me along with 539 other members of Pride of the Mountains, but in that moment it’s going to be something special.”

Only one of 10 marching bands in the country, including two collegiate bands, participate in the Macy’s Parade each year, and this marks the second in five years that the Catamounts have participated in annual Thanksgiving Day tradition.

Hickory grad Josh Starnes, who is one of six Red Tornado alumni participating in the Parade, said performing in the event has been a career goal of his.

“Marching in the Macy’s Parade was one thing that I always wanted to do, especially since I know a couple people that marched in the parade in 2014,” said Starnes, a junior who is also the Chief Archivist for the band. “During the days leading up to the announcement, a lot of my fellow members and I were wondering what was going on. A few of us thought that (The Macy’s Parade) could be a possibility.”

The announcement that the Pride of the Mountains would be performing in the Macy’s Parade was made more than a year ago, and many of the band’s members, including Bandys graduate Taylor Goforth, were thrilled about having such a unique opportunity.

“I would always get up, watch on Thanksgiving morning and see Western Carolina’s band perform,” said Goforth, a junior baritone who is one of four Trojan alumni participating in the Macy’s Parade. “Now, I get to be apart of it with many of my friends in the band.”

The Macy’s Parade appearance has a much deeper meaning for Brandon Lee — one of two Maiden grads participating in the Macy’s Parade.

Lee will be fulfilling not only a personal goal by participating in the annual event, but also a family dream.

“Ever since I was about 8 years old when I came to see my sister perform here at Western, I knew wanted to be in Pride of the Mountains,” said Lee, who is a member of the band’s drumline. “My sister was unable to go to the Macy’s Parade, but she was the in the picture on the float that went around in Time Square. In eighth grade when I came across the decision of playing sports or continuing music, my band director showed me a video of Pride of the Mountain’s performance in the Macy’s Parade and he said ‘This could be you one day.’ Now, here we are.”

The Pride of the Mountains will perform two songs at the Macy’s Parade — “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.

St. Stephens grad Madi Rae McCoy, who is one of four Indians marching in Macy’s with Pride of the Mountains, said the biggest adjustment that the band has made has been its preparation for the three-mile parade route they will march.

“As a staff member in Pride of the Mountains, the preparation has been a long, but rewarding process,” said McCoy, a junior who plays trombone. “The preparation has included conditioning, many sectionals and rehearsal time as well mental preparation to be able to take in all of the factors of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

As for what the moment will be like when Pride of the Mountains takes center stage at the Macy’s Pade, Starnes hopes it is something he and his fellow bandmates never forget.

“I think that it will be a little surreal,” he said. “I’ve never really been in anything this big, but it will be the experience of a lifetime and I’m glad that I get to experience it with my friends and brothers.”

Bandys (4): Carlee Green, Taylor Goforth, Matthew Brotherton, Matthew McCreary
Hickory (6): Jubilee Padilla, Skylar Gibbs, Shania Robbs, Josh Starnes, Justin Earp, Daniel Brodie
Maiden (2): Brandon Lee, Bradley Johnson, Jacob Brown
Newton-Conover (2): Luke Canrobert, Erin Bowden
St. Stephens (4): Madi Rae McCoy, Alyssa Dae Wilson, Morgan Watson, Karey Peeler