On Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, 500 catamounts took on New York participating in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Western Carolina University’s marching band was established in 1938 with 23 students. They are now known as one of the best marching bands in the Southeast for its performances that include a medley of tunes with various instruments, singers and more.
In fact, Bands of America Hall of Fame President and CEO said the band was “the most innovative and exciting marching band in the Southeast” while Western Carolina’s Athletic Bands Director was getting inducted in 2005. “In addition, I have presented as an exhibition band three times at the Bands of America Grand National Championship.”
Along with this, they have been in attendance at four BOA regional competitions in Atlanta.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has taken place since 1924 through radio but was not actually televised until 1948 making it the second oldest parade in the United States. The three-hour annual event is one of the world’s biggest parades and is presented by Macy’s, a department store chain founded in 1858.
Western Carolina’s marching band has participated in the parade twice within the past five years according to Brandon Holandez, a second baritone for the Pride of the Mountains. “We are one of the first marching bands to march Macy’s twice, and the fact that we are doing this within only five years says a lot. It means that we are being heard around the country and that what we do still has an impact on people’s lives. I’ve always wanted to perform in front of a large crowd to see our impact. I get to live out my dream and do it for 50 million people,” said Holandez
For many members, this experience was very surreal as they have many thanksgiving memories of watching the parade themselves. “This means a lot to me! Every year on Thanksgiving morning, my family and I would watch the parade while we cook food for our extended family later on in the day. I never thought I would go from watching the parade on TV, to actually being in the parade! Being in the parade with this marching band makes it so much more special!” said Brandon Rice who is the electric violinist for the halftime and postgame show.
One common many members of the band have is simple, they’re not just friends, they’re family and this is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Their 2019 performance features them performing two songs. One being Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” as well as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.”