The Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band just got the surprise of a lifetime. After being asked to gather together last Tuesday morning, band members, along with WCU staff members were surprised to receive the highly anticipated news that they have been selected to perform in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Pride of the Mountains will join the line of marching bands in 2014 and begin their performance to the sound of “Let’s Have a Parade,” the iconic phrase that has signaled the start of every Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1924.
Pride of the Mountains was selected to be one of 10 marching ensembles in the 2014 parade beating out more than 175 applicants nationwide. Their outstanding musical ability, marching and performance skills and local recognition reinforced Macy’s decision to showcase the band’s talent during the grand march on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.
Among the members of the band to be given the surprise news was Franklin High School graduate Caleb Moore. Moore, who graduated from FHS in 2012, is just finishing up his freshman year at WCU. Moore plays cymbals for the Pride of the Mountains (POTM) and after just one year with the Catamounts, Moore was selected to be the cymbal section leader for the 2013 season.
“I was blown away. This is going to be an incredible opportunity for everyone involved, to get to perform at such a famous event is going to be an experience of a lifetime,” said Moore.
Moore is one of three former Panthers turned Catamount. He is joined by Clint Strain (Class of 2012) and Sarah Martin (Class of 2010). “There have been many others in years past, and hopefully a few more this next year,” said Moore. “FHS is where I really started learning about percussion and what it's all about. Without that experience I wouldn't be a part of POTM like I am today.”
In addition to performing in a world class event recognized by many as the official start of the holiday season, Moore and the rest of the Pride of the Mountains will be spending an entire week in the Big Apple.
“The performance is going to be pretty awesome, but we're also getting to stay in New York City for a full week during the trip,” said Moore. “And because I've never been there before, just the fact that I'm going is really exciting.”
Wesley Whatley, creative director of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gave the announcement.
“David Starnes continues to push forward the legacy of musical excellence at Western Carolina University and we are so proud to have this enormous and exciting band join our ranks for the very first time on Thanksgiving Day 2014,” said Whatley.
“We are honored as well as excited to represent Western Carolina University, The School of Music as well as the entire ‘Catamount Nation,’ on national television in the 2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said David Starnes, director of athletic bands. “It is undoubtedly one of the greatest events a band student of any age can experience and we feel privileged to offer our members this opportunity.”
Western Carolina University Chancellor David Belcher said, “It is a supreme honor to add this invitation to participate in the 2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to the long list of accomplishments of Western Carolina University's Pride of the Mountains Marching Band. We were proud of the Pride for winning the 2009 Sudler Trophy for collegiate marching bands. We were delighted when they were selected to march in the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade. And we are absolutely ecstatic that our band members will be sharing their talents and creativity with the millions of people who will watch the Macy's Parade, both in person and on television."
For more than 85 years, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has given thanks to what Macy’s values most – its loyal fans. More than 5,000 Macy’s employees and dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to create a spectacular event that entertains the cheerful crowds and provides joy to millions at home watching on Thanksgiving Day. The parade marches down a more than two-mile long New York City route gleaming with color, music and cheers that fill the autumn sky.
The Macy’s Parade takes more than a year to plan, with bands chosen over 18 months in advance of their parade debut. Each band application is thoroughly reviewed by the Macy’s Parade Band Committee, which looks every year for bands that not only have great musical and marching ability, but also the stage presence to captivate a nation. Once these bands are chosen, the Macy's Parade team hits the road to surprise band members with news of their selection to perform in the 2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
For the next 18 months, the band will prepare for their big performance on Thanksgiving Day. With the support of their state and more importantly, their school community, WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band will march its way into parade history.
“There's going to be a lot of practice involved, believe me,” said Moore. “When you're in that kind of national spotlight, everything is going to have to be perfect. This is a huge opportunity for all of us here at POTM, and all of our potential members that will come in over the next few years. The support we get from the university and the rest of western North Carolina really is amazing, and we thank everyone for that. I hope everybody comes out to see our shows in the future, because we truly do love performing for you guys.”