I think the biggest shock will be New York itself, just the sheer numbers and size of everything. My advice to the kids is going to be, 'Stay calm and just enjoy it.’ —Troy Mace
AMERICAN FORK — It's a good thing the members of the American Fork High School Marching Band have nerves of steel.
As they march in front of between 9-10 million people on Thanksgiving Day 2014 in New York City, they are expected to look confident, serene and strong.
Many of the spectators will be lining the streets and hanging out of the windows of apartments and high-rises. But the majority will be watching their television screens as the band participates for a second time in the iconic and popular parade.
"We're so honored to be invited again," band director John Miller said. "This is my favorite parade. I love how they treat the band. Then to be involved, marching down the street with half the crowd above you and others lined up 50-60 people deep to watch, it's incredible."
"I'm so excited," said Maren McAllister, one of the band's drum majors. "It's my first time in New York."
"For most of us, it's our first time in New York," said Kara Cannon, also a drum major. "I'm really excited."
While none of the current band members was in the band in 2007 when American Fork made its first journey to the Macy's parade, Troy Mace was a "band dad" on that first trip.
Mace said it will be a thrilling experience for the teenagers to visit the East Coast.
"I think the biggest shock will be New York itself, just the sheer numbers and size of everything," Mace said. "My advice to the kids is going to be, 'Stay calm and just enjoy it.’ ”
Mace and a dozen other "band dads" are required to help look after the instruments and equipment for the band, pit crew and color guard.
The instruments were transported cross-country via semitruck. Since they can't take the semi into the city, everything will be loaded into rented box trucks from New Jersey and brought to the parade staging area.
With their own instruments in transit to New York City, many of the band members played with borrowed instruments at last Friday's 5A state championship football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The band members will wake up at 1:30 a.m. to be ready for the parade, which will be televised by both NBC and CBS.
The American Fork band is one of four high school and three college bands invited to the 2014 parade. They'll march the two-mile route and perform a short number in front of the Macy's bandstand. The high-energy, physically demanding number — "Can-Can" by Jacques Offenbach from "Orpheus in the Underworld" — is exactly one minute, 15 seconds long.
They've been practicing for months on a square area at the high school that matches the bandstand space exactly.
The 230 students, along with 200 parent chaperones and members of the support staff, left Nov. 24 for the event. The band raised $400,000 to pay expenses.
They'll do some sightseeing in New York, attend the Broadway production of "Wicked," shop and have Thanksgiving dinner aboard a cruise ship.
In 2007, construction on the 9/11 memorial was just getting underway. This time, band members will have a chance to see the finished memorial.
"We're doing this for the kids," Mace said. "I don't even have any kids in the band this year, and another band dad is the same. It goes back to the kids. When 200 kids come up and say, 'Thank you,' that's your reward."
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.