While the Cavalier Marching Band usually echoes through Grounds and fills Scott Stadium on game days, this week, the band is bringing its good ol’ cheer to the Big Apple.
Selected from amongst more than 250 applicants, the Marching Band is headed to New York City on Monday to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Members of the band will experience a paid trip to the city, complete with group activities, free time to explore and a television debut.
However, this deal only comes after months and months of practice.
“We’re always a pretty intense group no matter what the occasion is,” drum major Shaw Driggers said. “The only thing that’s changed is we’ve started doing parade marching which we normally don’t do.”
This hard work and dedication can be seen in the band’s hectic schedule. The band switched gears for the parade following the Duke game last weekend, and they will return on Friday night for the Virginia Tech game.
“It’s been a little hectic, especially with the Duke game this [past] weekend and the Virginia Tech game right after,” second-year Curry student Joanna Hsu said. “A lot of it comes down to taking your own time to look through music and memorizing things, which is stressful.”
While band members will miss Thanksgiving traditions at home, the Cavalier Marching Band plans to bring its own cheer. The band will host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner by renting out a restaurant and inviting band members’ families to attend.
“A lot of people’s families are coming up,” Driggers, a third-year College student, said. “Both sides of my family are coming up, so I’ll be spending a lot of time with them. We’re having a big Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll be with my band family, so it’s like kind of the same thing [as Thanksgiving at home].”
The Cavalier Marching Band is a diverse group of students with a unifying passion for music. Practicing twice a week for two hours with additional rehearsals on game weekends, the band operates as a “well-run machine,” Driggers said.
“My favorite part of being in the band is the camaraderie,” Hsu said. “With so many people in the band, I’ve met people with all different kinds of backgrounds, all different majors, years. Especially [with] the amount of time we spend together during the fall semester, you really get to know these people.”
Members of Cavalier Marching Band hope their selection for the parade signals a bright future for the group, which is only 12 years old.
“We’re a very young band comparatively, so to be selected for such an honor at such an early phase in our development is indicative of how much bigger we can go and will go,” Driggers said. “I’m very eager to see what we do next season.”
The band plans to play a selection of jazz and pop songs while marching in the parade and will have a minute on the Macy’s Star to be featured prominently on television.
“I’ve watched the parade on television for as long as I can remember and to actually get to be in it this year is super exciting,” Hsu said. “We’ve been talking about it for a while, so the fact that it’s [this week] is crazy.”
After a year and a half of preparation, the members of Cavalier Marching Band are excited to finally put on the performance they have long been practicing for.
“It’s really surreal because I remember hearing about it in a secret band meeting last year. They unveiled that we were going to Macy’s and taped the whole thing,” Driggers said. “At this point it’s been a long time coming.”