CULLOWHEE — The 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is just around the corner and Iredell County will be well-represented when Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band makes its second appearance in the parade in five years, and as one of only two collegiate bands invited to participate.
The parade is set for Thursday, Nov. 28, and will be broadcast live on NBC. The band will leave Cullowhee on Saturday, Nov. 23, and return Saturday, Nov. 30.
Of the 535 members of the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, 15 are from Iredell County. They are:
Lake Norman High School, Hannah Shalvey, Grace LaMack and Nicholette Cherruault
Mooresville Senior High School, Dakota Groves, Bradley Brandt, Michael Hernandez, Chynna Connor, Rachel Peterkin, Ashlee White, Hannah Whitlow, Marie Joos and William Frink
South Iredell High School, Elizabeth VanVleet, Alexander Eplin and Kevin Kerns
The parade is more than a road trip for these WCU students, said David Starnes, WCU’s director of athletic bands and assistant professor of music. It’s a three-hour, prime-time public relations campaign. “Kids see us on television and they say, ‘Who is Western Carolina University’ and it’s a big draw for the university,” Starnes said.
The trip’s big three expenses — hotel, food and travel — will cost close to $400,000, with another $350,000 in additional expenses for events and other experiential learning activities during the band’s six days in New York. Neither the band nor Western Carolina University makes money from appearing in the parade, Starnes said.