I’ve always spent Thanksgiving sitting at a big dinner table with my whole family, eating turkey and sweet potatoes and saying what I’m thankful for. This year was just a little different. Instead of sleeping in and rolling out of bed to the amazing smell of Thanksgiving food, I woke up at 4 am in a hotel room and got ready to perform in the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, AHN sends their senior Jaguarettes members to NYC and they get to be a part of the parade, I was so excited that it was finally my turn. I knew that my fellow dance team members and I would never forget this day.
All 760 cheerleaders and dancers were dressed and ready to start the day at 5:30 am in the grand ballroom. Everyone was anxious and excited and we all just wanted to go outside and start our chants and dances. The second we got outside, we all wanted to sprint back in. Not only were we wearing 3-5 shirts under our costume, it was also less than 30 degrees out. OH and it was snowing! Once the initial shock was over, all 760 of us ran to the subway. So you can imagine the look on everyones faces as they saw a mob of white uniforms sprinting towards the midtown subway.
Once we arrived to the start of the parade route at an early 6:30, we were all getting more and more excited. We settled down outside the National History Museum, where we would be sitting until our time to start the parade route. Our UDA/UCA instructors started passing out hypothermia blankets (if you’re not sure what these look like, they’re thin foil looking blankets that make everyone look like burritos, but they surprisingly keep you SUPER warm). We all stood outside looking like burritos and keeping an eye out for Nick Jonas at ALL times.
Around 9:30, we started lining up for the big day!! Not only were most of us Jaguarettes towards the front of the formation, Claire Cardillo and I SAW Nick Jonas!! Around 9:45, we began the 3 mile walk. The second we lined up, we realized how close we were to KISS. We were dancing to a Rock n’ Roll mix by KISS and were allowed to be right in front of him in the parade. It was crazy to see how many people screamed for them while we were walking. The entire parade route we screamed chants like “Happy Thanksgiving, New York!”. “Let’s go Macy’s!” and “We love NYC”. Once we started approaching 34th street, it started snowing! It was slippery everywhere and freezing cold (like I couldn’t feel my hands or cheeks cold) but every step was worth it.
Once we finally got to Herald Square, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. All the four and a half hour practices suddenly were worth it. We finally had our minute of fame on national television, which is something we will never forget. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life and if I could go again, I would. I can’t wait for the Juniors on dance team to get to go next year and experience the fun!