1 of 3
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Members of American Fork High Marching Band practice for appearance in Macy's parade.

AMERICAN FORK — On Thanksgiving Day at 2 a.m. — when the members of the American Fork High School Marching Band get their wake-up calls — they may be thinking show business isn't so fun.

But a little later, as they perform for television cameras and cheering roadside crowds, it'll be magical and well worth the loss of sleep, the cost and the countless hours of practice, says the band's director.

"This year has been amazing. The kids have worked hard and done well and it's all going to culminate in downtown New York with 3 million people watching," said John Miller, who has directed the award-winning band for the past 15 years. "We're the first band from Utah to be in the Macy's parade. The kids are sky high. We almost don't need a plane."

The 260-member band has been gearing up for the parade since before they marched in President Bush's inaugural parade. Miller had to choose then whether to accept the Macy's parade invitation or the inaugural invitation. (Macy's agreed to wait for the band until this year.)

It'll take $390,000, a semitrailer and six plane flights to get the band, the instruments, uniforms and chaperones all to New York, where they'll perform in the 2 1/2-mile parade and then spend a few days taking the royal tour of the city and a Broadway show.

They'll rehearse at 3:20 a.m. with the cameras, start the parade at 10 a.m. and perform a 20-minute show at Herald Square in front of Macy's on Thanksgiving Day.

"We're number three in the parade, which is a great spot," Miller said. "The Macy's thing is at the very, very end, and we can't perform our show until then because NBC has exclusive rights to it."

The band has already taped its show — twice — so NBC executives can plan camera angles with its photographers in advance.

They've all signed waivers and agreed to wear clothing designed to keep them warm and dry since temperatures typically range between 32 and 70 degrees.

Miller said everyone is bringing thermal underwear and wool socks.

"Every show we've done this year except one has been in miserable weather, so we're expecting cold," Miller said, "Last year was horrible (weather for the parade), and we were supposed to be there."

"We're expecting cold weather and big crowds, definitely," said Alan Moody, a senior and one of the drum majors.

"I've never seen it (the parade)," said sophomore Deborah McKinney, also a drum major. "I've heard it's, like, insane."

"It's a like a trip to St. George that goes on forever," said Richard Flores, the third drum major and a sophomore.

McKinney will be working for her dad when she gets back so she can pay back the $1,500 it cost to go. Moody will be getting a job to do the same. Flores' mom wrote out a check and to him she expects a music scholarship will pay for college.

Band members will see "Wicked" and visit ground zero, the Statue of Liberty, Radio City Music Hall, have a private Thanksgiving dinner in a luxury hotel, a riverboat dinner dance and a tour or the harbor.

"We're excited. It's my first trip to New York," said percussionist Michael Bingham.

"I'm looking forward to the cruise," said Evan Nuttall, also a drumline member.

Next year, Miller is taking the band to the Bands of America Grand Nationals competition in Indianapolis, Ind., where it will they'll try to place in the top 12 in the nation.

If you wantto watch the band:

What: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Where: NBC Ch. 5

When: 10:17 a.m. EST, Nov. 22

If you want to help pay the way:

Phone: Martin Lewis, 492-9041

Make checks payable to: Alpine School District Foundation or AFHS Band.

Mail checks to: Bank of American Fork, P.O. Box 307, American Fork, UT 84003

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com