The Pickerington High School Central Marching Band this Thanksgiving will be in Philadelphia to march in the nation's oldest parade celebrating the holiday.
Members of the PHS Central Marching Tigers Monday, Nov. 19, packed their uniforms and instruments onto charter buses in preparation for a Tuesday morning trip to the City of Brotherly Love.
The band, which in past years has marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and also has performed in national events such as the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif., this year is one of 18 bands from throughout the country invited to march in the 93rd ABC 6 Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.
This year marks the third time the Marching Tigers have performed in the parade, formerly known as the Gimble's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
"They are departing at 6 a.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 20) from Central," said Karen Sewell, wife of PHS Central Band Director Mike Sewell.
"(The) band will be staying a Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel in the heart of the city," she said.
First held in 1920, Philadelphia's Thanksgiving parade reportedly is the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in America.
The 1.4-mile parade route steps off from the intersection of 20th Street and JFK Boulevard in Philadelphia's center city, before heading onto 16th Street and then the Ben Franklin Parkway. The parade will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, and is slated to end at noon.
According to event organizers, the Marching Tigers were selected again to participate in this year's parade after applying and submitting a video of the band performing.
"We are fully aware of their quality and reputation," said Todd Marcocci, co-producer of the ABC 6 Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade.
PHS Central is one of three Ohio bands participating in this year's parade. Others are from Gahanna Lincoln High School and Glen Oak (Canton) High School.
"This year's lineup of 18 bands in the parade is phenomenal," Marcocci said. "With three bands from Ohio, we are very happy to have the Buckeye State well represented."
According to Mrs. Sewell, more than 185 band members will make the trip to Philadelphia.
In addition to the parade, the students will hear from a motivational speaker shortly after arrival.
They also will take a trip to the National Constitution Center and taking a walking tour with stops which include Ben Franklin's church, the Betsy Ross House where the first American flag was made and a viewing of the Liberty Bell.
"The band will march in the parade, sponsored by Dunkin Donuts and Philadelphia's ABC affiliate station, then celebrate Thanksgiving with dinner and dancing Thanksgiving night," Sewell said.
"On Friday (Nov. 23), the students will stop in Gettysburg, Pa., to have a 'visit' with Abraham Lincoln (via) Lincoln noted portrayer Jim Getty and tour the battleground before returning to Pickerington."
If that's not enough activity and excitement for the band and its chaperones, the Marching Tigers will get up early Saturday, Nov. 24, and perform in a 9 a.m. "Skull Session" in Ohio State University's St. John Arena with the OSU Marching Band before the 11-0 Buckeyes take on their biggest rival, the University of Michigan, at noon in Ohio Stadium.
"The band will return for one more appearance before their busy week is concluded," Sewell said.
The cost is the trip to Philadelphia is $500 per student, Sewell said, and is being funded entirely by band parents, boosters and "generous donations from the Pickerington community and the amazing Pickerington Marching Tigers Alumni group."
"Thanks to Giant Eagle, Krispy Kreme, and Uno's for donating breakfast for the band and staff before they depart," Sewell said. "Uno's and Max & Erma's have donated treats for the trip and after-parade meal.
"Hill Road Cleaners has made the logistics so much easier by providing garment boxes for transporting the 185-plus member band and guard uniforms," she said.
"Drug Mart supplied packing bags.
"A huge thank you goes out from the band and staff to the Pickerington McDonald's family," Sewell said.
"As a thank you for the Marching Tiger Band's fund raising efforts for the Nationwide Children's Hospital Ronald McDonald's House, our local McDonald's will be providing dinner for the band on Wednesday evening.
"Thank you to everyone for their support of the Marching Tigers. We could not make it to Philadelphia without you," Sewell said.