Education

Need a turkey break? Watch this DFW area high school band perform in New York City

Put the pause on Thanksgiving Day turkey prepping, side dish management and table setting with some music — the kind that makes you want to march with the band.

On Thanksgiving Day, the 387-student band from Keller High School will be among 12 marching bands performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s the only Texas marching band in the parade.

The performance caps 18 months of prep and fundraising for the suburban school 20 miles northeast of downtown Fort Worth.

“We have been talking about this for a long time,” said Mark McGahey, Keller High School’s director of bands, after a practice session Monday in New York. “This is a one time kind of thing.”

On Thursday morning, the band will march the 2.5-mile parade route playing “Deep In the Heart of Texas,” “Can’t Stop The Feeling,” and John Philip Sousa’s “March Medley.”

At the end of the route, the band will be at Herald Square in front of the Macy’s Department Store, where it will perform for an international television audience on NBC between 10:38 and 10:48 a.m. CST.

McGahey said the band will play a classical piece called, “Gloria,” composed by John Rutter.

This performance comes after several busy weeks for the Keller High School band. Earlier this month, the band placed eighth out of 41 marching bands in the Class 6A UIL state marching band competition in San Antonio. It also performed in the Bands of America San Antonio Super Regional Championship.

Keller Mayor Pat McGrail said he expects everyone in Keller will be looking for glimpses of the band when the parade is aired on television. When the band returns, McGrail said, the city wants to recognize the students in some public way so they know the community appreciates their work.

“We are so proud of those kids,” said Keller Mayor Pat McGrail. “This is so fantastic.”

Rick Westfall, superintendent of Keller schools, also praised the marching band.

“The work required by staff, students and parents to be accepted by Macy’s to march in the parade and then actually get here is unimaginable,” Westfall told the Star-Telegram on Twitter. “Proud of this group and their representation of Keller High.”

McGahey told the Star-Telegram Monday that band members are bracing for a cold march. Weather reports indicate that the temperature will be in the lower and middle 20s with frigid winds.

Despite the need to bundle up, the band is braced for fun that includes some sightseeing and a Thanksgiving evening dinner cruise in New York Bay. Some 1,200 people (students, chaperones and family members) will attend the dinner on two cruise ships, McGahey said.

The band heads back to Texas on Friday on seven flights. This week’s itinerary has everyone in the band happy.

“It’s pretty cool,” McGahey said.

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