For high school marching bands, parades are a common showcase for their talents — after all, the musical ensembles have “marching” in their very names, and marching down Main Street is all part of the show.
For some local students from Loganville Christian Academy, however, the showcase was a bit bigger than a suburban downtown stretch.
The LCA marching band joined with members of three other schools in the Georgia Independent Schools Association — Southland Academy, Kings Ridge and Americus Sumter — as part of the Georgia All Select Marching Band for a recent trip.
Their destination? Philadelphia, for the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the nation.
The mixed school ensemble marched in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade, a 2.5 mile route through the center of the City of Brotherly Love.
For the students who made the trip, the parade was an experience to savor forever.
“Being in the parade was such an amazing experience,” said Katie Carney, 16, a junior piccolo and snare drum player. “There were thousands of people watching us play, and the atmosphere was a once in a lifetime experience.”
Justin Hetzler, a sophomore trumpet player, agreed, saying marching through the city playing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams was an amazing way to mark the holiday.
“Being in the parade was a totally new experience,” he said. “I have always watched parades on TV but never been in one. At first, I was a little nervous as we approached the start of the parade but as we began marching, I lost myself in the music and took in everything around me.”
But the trip wasn’t just about marching in the parade, as the band students also got the chance to tour both Philadelphia and nearby New York City.
“First we went to New York City,” Carney said. “I loved touring New York because it is such a different environment than Georgia. We were able to see the 9/11 memorial, China Town, Little Italy and Times Square.
“In Philadelphia, we were able to tour Independence Hall, see the Liberty Bell and go to the U.S. Mint.”
Both Carney and Hetzler said the highlight of the tourist part of the trip was the chance to catch a Broadway show.
“The best part of the tour was going to see Aladdin on Broadway,” Hetzler said. “The singing and acting was incredible and the actors and actresses made it look so easy.”
Carney agreed, adding the show was just as notable for who she saw it with as what she saw.
“It was funny and I saw it with some of my closest friends,” she said.
Both students said it was the overall experience was one they would never forget.
“I was so blessed to go on this trip,” Carney said. “The fact that my friends and I were able to march in a huge Thanksgiving Day parade and tour two cities is absolutely incredible. I’m so glad that God made it possible for us to go on this trip.”