Andrew Uhring practices “America on Parade” on his tenor saxophone twice on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It’s a song he’s marched to since the summer, and one he’s got down pat.
It’s also the same parade march melody that senior dance captain Alyssa Hamaty will dance to with the Bellefonte Area High School dance team and marching band at the Veterans Day parade — also known as America’s Parade — in New York City next month.
With the song, march and choreography nearly perfected, the next step for the 97 students is to get their nerves in check.
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“I guess we just need to make sure we don’t mess up,” Uhring, 17, said. “I think we’re all a little nervous, but it’s a special opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. It makes it extra special because some of us are seniors and will be going out with a bang.”
Band director Jay Zimmerman said organizers for events like the Veterans Day parade reach out to groups across the country and invite them to apply.
In the early summer, Zimmerman sent in an application and video clip of his marching band. About a month later, he got the OK for his band to participate.
“It’s marching band season and we always want to do something big,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a prestigious thing. It’s New York, so it’s an honor to be selected to perform.”
Central Pennsylvania will be well-represented in the parade on Veterans Day as Clearfield Area Senior High School will also perform.
The Bellefonte marching band will arrive in New York on Nov. 10, and will go on a dinner cruise around Manhattan. On Veterans Day, the band will line up downtown around 8 a.m. and prepare for the parade, which starts at 11:25 a.m., Zimmerman said.
According to the America’s Parade website, 600,000 spectators are expected.
“It’s such an honor that we can be part of something so big,” said junior trumpet player Zack Mothersbaugh. “I think we all just want to go out there and represent Bellefonte really well.”
But performing in front of large crowds is something the band is used to.
Last year, the marching band, along with the Bellefonte concert band, orchestra and chorus performed at Walt Disney World. In the past, Zimmerman said, the band has performed at festivals in Ocean City, Md., Virginia Beach, Va., Ohio and Toronto.
Zimmerman said practice leading up to the parade will be all about perfecting the performance.
“It’s more of a refresher every time we practice,” Zimmerman said. “They know the stuff, but it’s just a matter of keeping it fresh in their minds.”
The parade will be nationally televised, but details are still being finalized.
For more information visit www.americasparade.org.