Local Band Marches To The Beat Of Its Own Drum On Worldwide Stage

The Rockford High School Marching Band will make history this Thanksgiving as the first West Michigan Band to perform in the world’s biggest parade.

Last year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had an estimated 3.5-million live spectators and 50-million television viewers.

In the 91-year history of the parade, Rockford is only the third band to be chosen from the state of Michigan.

Band director Brian Phillips’ inspiration was simple. “Just watching the parade over the years and thinking this band would really enjoy that experience.”

Getting an invite to perform is not an easy task. It takes months of preparation, planning, fundraising and practice.

“It is an application process. We submitted resumes, references, sample performances, recommendation letters, et cetera.  Through this process, we were selected as one of six high school bands from around the nation to perform in the parade this year,” Phillips said.

Rockford High School Marching Band is only the third band from Michigan to be selected to perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the parade's history.
Rockford High School Marching Band is only the third band from Michigan to be selected to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the parade’s history.

The 350-member band will be traveling by bus to New York City and taking in historical sites along the way.

Phillips is most excited for the band to “be in the city, with the huge crowds cheering the kids on.”

“It is going to be something they will never forget,” he said.

The group will play two songs along the parade route: “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 and “Armed Forces on the Parade.” Its feature performance will be “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

Phillips explained the choices, “Being from Michigan, Motown is the biggest musical influence from which to draw” and “we wanted to play something patriotic, a salute to our troops. For the feature performance, no explanation necessary.”

The band received an invite to the 2017 parade in April of 2016 and Phillips believes, “one of the biggest factors in our selection is the high level and professionalism of our live performances.”

Tune in on Thursday, Nov. 23 at 9 a.m. to see the local band enjoy the experience of a lifetime at the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

*Photos courtesy of Rockford High School Marching Band

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