TORONTO -The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Nov. 22 in New York City included one city high school student participating in the annual tradition senior John Rodesh, who marched with 250 other student-musicians from across the nation in the Macy's Great American Marching Band.
Rodesh, who plays euphonium, was selected after he auditioned for the band, and he was the only student from Jefferson County chosen, according to Rodesh.
"It was the 86th-annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," he said. "The parade was Nov. 22, and I was in New York City from Nov. 17 through Nov. 23. There were close to 250 members representing youth from every state.
HONORED — Toronto High School senior John Rodesh marched with 250 other student-musicians in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Nov. 22 in New York City. Rodesh said the opportunity to march with some of the finest high school musicians in the country was an honor. -- Mark Miller
"I auditioned for it in February," continued Rodesh. "I had to prepare a solo on my instrument and send it to the selection committee. The committee also looks at (a record of) community service and activities in school."
Rodesh said he had to raise a little more than $2,000 for the trip, but he had plenty of help doing so.
"None of it came out of my pocket," Rodesh said, adding he was grateful to the community for its support. "It was all donations from local businesses, Toronto High School alumni, school organizations and private donations. The community is so small, but I had no problem raising funds. I was getting donations from and thanking people I didn't even know. It was great. It was one thing I didn't have to worry about."
Rodesh said the trip's hectic schedule included practicing music and parade moves with the band.
"We stayed in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., about 30 minutes away from New York City," he said. "We rehearsed in a military armory that also was an indoor soccer field."
Rodesh said the field was measured to the dimensions of Herald Square in New York where the band would be performing its routine before millions of TV viewers.
"We performed 'Moves Like Jagger' on the parade route," Rodesh said. "(When the band was broadcast on TV) in Herald Square we performed 'Lazy River,' an old swing tune. The parade route was 4 miles from Central Park West to Herald Square. On the streets (on the parade route) there were 5 million people."
The band had previously practiced the day before in Herald Square so the television crew could determine the best angles to shoot, said Rodesh. He added he was too busy to think about or get nervous about the millions of parade-watchers on the streets and watching television.
"I didn't sleep for 23 hours before the parade," said Rodesh, adding he was too busy preparing for the performance. "We were so occupied with marching we never did get nervous. The band directors were great. They ran it like a college band."
Rodesh did get some time to do a bit of sight-seeing while in the Big Apple.
"We had some free time in Times Square every day," he said, adding he saw several celebrities and other musicians on floats. "We saw the World Trade Center Memorial, watched 'Mama Mia!' on Broadway and went to the Top of the Rock observatory platform in Rockefeller Center. You could see the entire city skyline from there."
Rodesh said the entire experience was one he'll never forget.
"It was really cool," he said.