Harrison County

These Coast band students will spend Thanksgiving with Al Roker, Gwen Stefani and Santa Claus

It’s been about 18 months since Tim Garrett received the news that the West Harrison High School Marching Band was selected to participate in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And a lot has changed since then.

Mainly, Garrett has seen half of his band graduate.

“We made the announcement in April 2016 that we would be appearing in the 2017 parade,” Garrett said. “So that means I’ve had two seniors classes graduate since the announcement and I’ve had two new classes join the band.”

But for the remaining band members, both the seniors who were sophomores at the time and of the announcement and the upcoming freshmen, the magical hour is almost at hand. The 200-member band and 200 adult chaperones will load eight charter buses on Saturday and head for the Big Apple. Although Thanksgiving is not until Thursday, Nov. 23, there’s plenty to do before the big day.

On Monday, 50 members of the band will appear on NBC’s “Today.” The band is scheduled to be on during the 7-8 a.m. hour.

The cost to take the band to New York? About $500,000, Garret said.

“We’ve been doing a lot of fund raising,” he said.

Garrett said his students began rehearsing the show in September, right in the middle of football and contest seasons.

“It was normal life for us until September and then we split our focus onto Macy’s and the other things we have going on,” he said.

The band will be staying in New Jersey and then busing into New York, Garrett said. They will be gone for a week.

He said the band will rehearse at 3 a.m. in Herald Square before the parade and then they will have a Thanksgiving dinner together.

“We going to have dinner on a cruise of the Hudson River around Manhattan,” Garrett said.

In April 2016, the parade’s creative director, Wesley Whatley, said organizers were impressed with the band’s routine to selections from “Mirror Mirror,” which the school performed as a halftime show during West Harrison Hurricanes football games.

Garret said the band will perform a piece called “Enterprising Young Men.”

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be broadcast on NBC affiliate WXXV 25 on the Coast beginning at 9 a.m. Other guests in the 2017 parade include Gwen Stefani, Sara Evans, Common and Santa Claus.