Journalism Next: Manatee Sugar 'Canes join Macy's Day Parade

Special to the HeraldDecember 24, 2012 

The Macy's Day Parade was bound to be a big success: 50 million viewers, 10,000 participants and seven Sugar 'Canes.

The Sugar 'Canes made their annual trip to New York City Nov. 17-23 with the honor of participating in one of the most prestigious events of the year.

The Sugar 'Canes have been taking this adventure-filled trip to New York for more than 28 years, and it is something that all of the seniors look forward to. The seven seniors who attended this year were Rachel Schmidt, Cierra Cydrus, Brianna DiTammaso, Elly Kretchman, Alessandra Krause, Margarida Phelan and Whitney Barnes.

"There is a program for the Universal Dance Association called All American and when you get chosen, you get to dance at a bunch of different venues," said captain and senior Rachel Schmidt.

The Macy's Day Parade, also known as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, was celebrating its 86th anniversary this year. The Macy's Day Parade gathers some of the nation's best marching bands, performance groups, giant helium balloons and breathtaking floats to kick off the holidays. More than 3 million spectators line the streets every year to take part in this fun-filled event. This year the parade marched down to Columbus Circle, then it turned onto Central Park South before making its way straight down midtown Manhattan on Sixth Avenue from 59th to 34thstreets. The parade began at 9 a.m. Nov. 22.

The Sugar 'Canes stayed at the Hilton, and a chaperone was assigned to them for the duration of the event.

"When we arrived in New York, we got down to business; we practiced every day leading up to the parade. After the parade was over, we were free to have fun and enjoy New York City with our families," said officer and senior, Elly Kretchman.

The Sugar 'Canes, plus more than 500 members of other teams from around the nation, all had to learn a dance to perform on the corner of 34th Street. Throughout the rest of the parade, the dancers' jobs were just to wave and say "Happy Thanksgiving" to all of the bystanders.

"I was super nervous to be on TV with millions of people watching, but I was also very excited. I have been watching the Macy's Day Parade since I was a little girl, so being in it was mind-blowing," said Schmidt.

Every year the Sugar 'Canes have a different theme in the parade that corresponds with their costumes. The theme last year was the circus, so the girls dressed up like circus performers.

"The theme this year was Lady Gaga. The costumes were really unique and looked great at the parade," said Kretchman.

The Sugar 'Canes had to take part in fundraising to make this trip possible. They performed at Tarpon Point, took donations at doors, sold agendas and ads.

"It took a lot of hard work and planning to make this trip possible, but everyone pitched in to help. It all paid off in the end," said Kretchman.

The Macy's Day Parade was the big reason that the Sugar 'Canes were able to go to New York; however, this trip was not all business. The Sugar 'Canes were able to do some sightseeing throughout the trip, too.

"We got to go see some of the major sights such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center. We also attended the Broadway play 'Bring It On' and The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall,'' said Schmidt.

The parade was a big hit, like always, and the Sugar 'Canes all made it home safe and sound. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the Sugar 'Canes were all very grateful to have the opportunity to march and perform in one of the biggest events of the entire year.

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