Blasting from speakers Friday afternoon in front of Fort Worth’s Polytechnic High School was Frank Sinatra’s famous New York, New York.
“I want to be a part of it,” the song goes. “New York. New York.”
The song was a crowd-pleaser for Poly’s students, teachers, parents and extended school community, who gathered to wish the cheer squad well as it set off to New York City. Its 14 members are traveling to the Big Apple so they can participate in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The squad leaves for New York at 7 a.m. Saturday. While there, they will visit the Empire State Building, watch two shows on Broadway and make a stop at the Today Show.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Payton Blaton, 17, a sophomore. “It’s crazy. It’s crazy.”
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Friday’s celebration came on the last day of school before the Thanksgiving student holidays. Cheers, music and hugs marked a festive atmosphere similar to a pep rally. The band played and the cheerleaders danced.
“I am so excited,” said Kevian Douglas, 17, a senior who has never traveled outside Texas. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I am ready to have fun in New York.”
Students and teachers talked about watching the parade on Thanksgiving morning. Others talked about watching the squad on the Today Show on Wednesday morning when the squad hopes to meet co-host Tamron Hall, a member of Poly’s Class of 1987 and a cheerleader.
“As you can see, it has brought everybody together,” said coach Rayneta Dotson. “It’s like a big old community party because their Poly cheerleaders are going to New York.”
The cheerleaders were invited to participate in the parade last summer. They began raising funds for the trip through T-shirt sales and other activities. Their original fundraising goal was $37,000, but in October, it looked like they would fall short.
But when word spread that only the seven seniors on the squad would be able to make the trip, the community responded with an influx of last-minute donations, pushing the total to about $30,000. The squad will also sport new uniforms at the parade.
Poly alumni and local businesses were among those who pledged support, as did a few contributors who wished to remain anonymous, Dotson said. The squad also relied on money raised from a crowdfunding site.
“I’m so excited for these babies I don’t know what to do,” said Vinita Develrow, a Poly alumna from 1981 who will travel with squad. “This shows that we are still able to pull together, because it was the community that sent the children to the Macy’s parade.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.