Band prepares for Thanksgiving Day Parade

With over 400 registered student organizations and numerous programs such as study abroad, work abroad, co-op and more, students at Tech are afforded opportunities here that they will likely never see again. The 365 members of the Yellow Jacket Marching Band are about to add another very memorable experience to their repertoire.

Next month, the band will be travelling to New York City to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as one of only two college bands invited. It is the first time ever that the Yellow Jacket Marching Band has been invited to perform in this prestigious event.

“Every year, Macy’s accepts applications for the Parade. Applicants must submit a video, CD, and photos,” said Chris Moore, director of athletic bands. “Applications must be submitted two years in advance, so we planned ahead in hopes of performing for our 100th year anniversary.”

This year indeed marks 100 years since the original 14-member Georgia Tech band was formed by Robert “Biddy” Bidez, a textile major from Mobile, AL. The band’s hope to celebrate their centennial by marching in the Thanksgiving Parade is now a reality, and as Tech students know all too well, reality almost always induces some level of stress.

“We’re currently over $100,000 short of our fundraising goal, which means we’re about two-thirds of the way there,” Moore said. Seeming optimistic, he added, “We deeply appreciate all of the fans and alumni who have shown their support by donating.”

Donating money is easy, and all of the necessary information can be found by going to www.gatech.edu and clicking the “March to Manhattan” link at the top right of the page. The funds will cover the cost of transportation, hotel and food expenses. The band directors anticipate this performance being one of many high-profile opportunities to share their music programs with the Tech community. In addition to accepting donations, the Yellow Jacket Marching Band is raising money through paid performances.

“We do a lot of outside performances with corporations. They pay us to play at their special events. The drum line has also played with Keith Urban three times, as well as with Kenny Chesney and Sugarland,” Moore said. “Additionally, we will be putting on a Homecoming concert called Surround Sound at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 24, in the Ferst Center.”

While logistics are undeniably important, the band must also, of course, be both musically and technically ready to march on national television. Since they will be playing familiar songs such as Tech’s fight song and some selections from the pregame show, additional practices are not necessary.

“The band meets as a class, so we’re mostly just incorporating our preparation for the Thanksgiving Parade into that practice time,” Moore said. “One additional practice that we will be having is on October 5th. They’re closing off West Peachtree Street so that we can get a feel for what marching down a city street will actually be like. Macy’s requires us to submit a video of what our exact routine looks like, so we’ll tape that rehearsal and send it in.”

For those who, thus far in life, have not religiously watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year, this is definitely the year to start. Like every float in the parade, the band will march along the parade route and then play, standing stationary, in front of Macy’s for one minute and 15 seconds. Moore hopes to use this time in the spotlight, as well as the trip as a whole, to get Tech noticed.

“We’re going to try to get on Good Morning America and any other televised show that we can, to let people know that Georgia Tech is in town,” Moore said. “This is going to be a fun trip, but we’re also on a mission to promote Tech.”

The band will be leaving campus on Sunday, November 23rd, and will start driving back immediately after the parade on Thursday. “We’re taking buses because flying 400 people, including staff, to New York is not realistic from a financial standpoint,” Moore said.

Band members may see a show together on Broadway one night and will have some time Monday through Wednesday for sightseeing, but it is clear that these are secondary to the goal of getting Tech’s name out as much as possible.

“We are excited to be going, honored to have been chosen and hope to represent Georgia Tech and the city of Atlanta,” Moore said.