By Martin Lenkowsky
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Eagle Regiment Marching Band got its first taste of the Big Apple and liked it.
The band represented the state of Florida at the iconic 2023 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade last week in New York City.
By performing at the world-famous parade, the Eagle Regiment became the first Broward County marching band chosen for the honor.
Band Director Steve Rivero had been to NYC before but was never there for the Macy’s parade when he grew up watching it as part of a family tradition.
He did not find marching 2.5 miles on the streets of New York before hundreds of thousands of onlookers – not to mention a nationwide TV audience in the millions – intimidating or anxiety-producing.
“The anxiety aspect was in the logistics of preparing,” Rivero said, adding they had to deal with the weather as well. “It was putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. Getting all the equipment there. It’s an incredible job moving a marching band.”
The band first found out the Macy’s Parade Band Committee selected them in April 2022. They faced stiff competition to become just one of the ten marching bands selected out of a field of more than 100.
While in New York, they wore their marching band regalia and also played tourists by taking a dinner cruise with their group of nearly 400 people, including band members, chaperones, family, and fans.
They enjoyed a night cruise around the Statue of Liberty on a spacious yacht named “The Spirit of New York.” The package they purchased included this cruise, where they dined and danced aboard the ship.
Rivero said their performance at the Macy’s parade was not a competition. “But it was a competition to get in. We had to submit videos and letters of recommendation.”
Traveling to a “far away from South Florida” event was not a new adventure for the Eagle Regiment. On Jan. 1, 2023, they participated in a New Year’s Day parade in London.
The regiment’s musical theme on Thanksgiving, replete with props and uniforms, was the animated Christmas movie The Polar Express. Following the movie’s storyline, the band members were dressed to look like train conductors and the percussionists were dressed as waiters.
While marching down the crowded Manhattan streets, Rivero pointed out that they were delighted to see people sporting MSD paraphernalia.
Band member Zachariah Govan, an MSD senior and Coral Springs resident had never been to the Big Apple before. “It was amazing,” he said, describing his experience. “It was something I won’t forget [for] the rest of my life.”
While in New York, Govan and his family visited Radio City Music Hall and saw the Broadway musical Back to the Future. He said he plans on studying music in college but is undecided about joining the marching band.
MSD senior and band captain Michelle Ross, a Parkland resident, has visited New York before, most recently this past May.
Asked to describe her Thanksgiving Day parade experience, she said: “It’s a crazy feeling. You don’t realize how big a deal it is until you prepare.”
- Martin Lenkowsky moved to Coral Springs from NYC in 1982. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College. He has been both writer and editor for a number of South Florida publications since 1983. He considers features writing his specialty.
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