Calif. Band Prepares To March In Macy's Parade

fromKQED

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City is in its 83rd year. Only five marching bands are scheduled to perform in this year's parade. One group selected is the Pittsburg High School marching band from California.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Hopefully, the drivers of the parade floats will do it safely tomorrow at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It's the 83rd year for the parade and a first for a group of California students, who will be on foot. The Pittsburg High School marching band is one of only five selected to perform.

Here's Scott Shafer of member station KQED.

SCOTT SHAFER: Pittsburg High actually found out 18 months ago that they'd made the cut for this year's parade. That gave them time to raise the quarter-of-a-million dollars to cover the band's travel costs and allowing them to sharpen up.

Mr. DOMINIC ESCAJEDA (Drum Major, Pittsburg High School Marching Band): Three, four, one, two, three, four´┐Ż

(Soundbite of humming)

Unidentified Man: You guys get it?

PITTSBURG HIGH SCHOOL BAND: Yeah.

SHAFER: Pittsburg senior Dominic Escajeda is the drum major, so he'll conduct the band it marches down 7th Avenue toward Macy's.

Mr. ESCAJEDA: I know it means a lot to everyone. It means so much to me that I'm lucky enough to be the one leading this band there. Like, everyone is just so, so excited, so just anticipating it the way - it's been a long wait.

(Soundbite of music)

SHAFER: Pittsburg sits where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers join up before heading towards San Francisco Bay. It's not a glamorous place - not by any stretch. Like its namesake in Pennsylvania, Pittsburg is a steel town, or was. Like many of the public schools in the county, Pittsburg High struggles toward the bottom of state academic rankings.

Assistant Band Director Karren Bascomb tears up as she describes what this means to these kids.

Ms. KARREN BASCOMB (Assistant Band Director, Pittsburg High School Marching Band): This means everything. This shows that there's more to life than just Pittsburg. And to have this kind of achievement for this kind of school is an amazing thing. Everybody is proud.

SHAFER: Senior Justine McPeters(ph) is one of just two girls who play the tuba - actually, it's called a Sousaphone.

(Soundbite of music)

SHAFER: This is McPeters's fourth and final year playing in the Pittsburg High School Band, and she knows New York City will always be the highlight.

Ms. JUSTINE MCPETERS (Sousaphonist, Pittsburg High School Marching Band): When you get older, I'm pretty sure all of us are going to remember the time that we were in band, and especially the time we got to go the Macy's in March in front of millions of people.

SHAFER: After the parade on Thursday, the band will celebrate with Thanksgiving dinner aboard a boat on the Hudson River.

(Soundbite of whistle)

INSKEEP: That's Scott Shafer of KQED.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: On the day before Thanksgiving, it's NPR News.

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