It’s been a year and a half since Ohio University’s Marching 110 announced it would return to New York City for the third time to represent Ohio in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Since then, nearly half the band has graduated and been replaced by new members. Dozens of performances have passed since the 110 received word that it had been selected for the exclusive honor. Now, the band is working hard to perfect everything from step sizes to dance moves to perform in front of millions at the world’s largest parade.
The application process to participate in the parade is, to say the least, long. Marching 110 assistant director Josh Boyer said the band submitted its application in February 2016 and received word that it had been selected the next April. But plans for the parade had been in the works years before that to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the OU School of Music and the 50th anniversary of the modern style of the Marching 110.
Boyer explained that bands are only eligible to participate in the Macy’s parade every five years. Only 10 bands are selected to march each year, and only one band comes from a given state. The Marching 110 was selected to perform in 2000 and again in 2005. In 2010, the band travelled to Pasadena, California, to march in the Rose Parade during the Rose Bowl celebration. After that year, the band intentionally waited to apply for 2017 in hopes of representing OU’s proud history on one of the country’s biggest stages during the School of Music’s and the Marching 110’s landmark years.
Katey King, a freshman studying middle childhood education who is a member of the 110, is excited to do some sightseeing in New York City while the band is there. Although she wasn’t in the band when the parade selection was first announced, she looks forward to performing.
“I’m excited about it,” she said. “(The parade) will be on TV so everyone gets to watch it.”
The parade winds its way through miles of Manhattan streets, past famous attractions like Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. When the 110 reaches the star in front of Macy’s department store, it will have exactly 1 minute and 15 seconds to show the world why it’s the “most exciting band in the land.”
Luckily, Boyer said, the members of the 110 won’t have to start from scratch to learn the routine they will be performing on live television. The band will play “25 or 6 to 4” from the band Chicago, a selection it played for OU’s 2017 Homecoming show. The dance had to be modified slightly to fit the time and space constraints, but thankfully the material will already be familiar.
“The rest of what we do with parading ... we do that all year long,” Boyer said. “So it’s not really anything new for us. It’s just a parade for 2.5 miles in front of a million people.”
Boyer, who marched in the 110 during the 2005 Macy’s performance, said participating in the parade is unlike anything else. The sounds that echo off the skyscrapers that line the route and the cheers of parade watchers create an atmosphere that can’t be duplicated anywhere other than New York City.
“The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is just a staple of Thanksgiving,” Boyer said. “To be selected … for our third time is really great, and it’s something that we enjoy doing. It’s great for the university, for people to see us marching down the street with this giant OHIO across our uniforms.”
Mac Kramer, a sophomore studying business economics, said he hopes to see the 110 in the parade on TV and point it out to his family.
“I think it’s definitely awesome to see Ohio University, which isn’t the biggest university, to have the band in the parade,” he said.