Four members of the Mountlake Terrace High School cheer squad will be spending Thanksgiving week more than 2,400 miles from home, and they couldn’t be more excited about it.
The four seniors — Marissa Mason, Samantha Meadows, Brittany Kinsella and Sarah Smith — will be joining some 8,000 participants marching and performing in the 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
The parade is a holiday tradition in New York, watched by approximately 3.5 million as it marches 50 blocks along Central Park, down Eighth Avenue and ending in front of the landmark Macy’s store on 34th Street. Another 50 million people watch the parade each year on television.
“I screamed a lot, then I hugged Marissa,” recalled Smith about her reaction when she first found out she was going to New York for the parade. The four MTHS students have been counting the days until their trip since then.
“I am very excited for these girls to experience something so unique together,” said MTHS Cheer Coach Jessica Bos. The four leave on Friday and once in New York will be busy rehearsing each day with other cheerleaders and dancers coming from throughout the U.S.
“All of the cheerleaders participating from across the states come together and perform a routine as if they were one squad,” explained Bos. “The girls learn four or five different parts of this routine off an instructional video that was sent to them. Once they get to New York, they will be assigned to one of the parts they learned. It’s mostly dancing with some stunting too.”
As part of the Spirit of America Productions parade entry, the cheer squad members will also have opportunities to visit the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Broadway and the Fifth Avenue shopping district while in New York.
For Meadows, the chance to do a little sightseeing in the Big Apple was too good to pass on. “I was excited, but I didn’t really know what to think of it,” she said of first learning she would get to perform in the parade. “Then after awhile and talking to them about all the stuff we get to do, I said we’re doing this!”
Parents of three of the four students will be tagging along for the trip and will be able to see their daughters perform in-person. “My family is having a sleepover at my house because my mom and dad can’t go with us,” Smith said. “We invited all my grandmas and grandpas and everybody. Instead of having a Thanksgiving dinner, they’re going to do Thanksgiving breakfast and watch the parade.”
Coach Bos and the rest of the MTHS cheer squad will also be viewing Smith, Meadows, Mason and Kinsella from afar. “I’m having the girls over on Thanksgiving morning and we’ll be watching on TV,” Bos said.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast on NBC from 9 a.m.-noon on Thursday, Nov. 28.
— Story and photo by Doug Petrowski