JEFFERSON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — For many, one of the great Thanksgiving Day traditions is gathering and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And this year, among the floats, are two central pa. high schoolers. Punxsutawney Area High School senior Emma Dale will be playing the clarinet in the Macy’s Great American Marching Band, and Punxsutawney sophomore Natalie Miller will be dancing in the Spirit of America Dance Stars group.
The two of them grew up watching the parade every year and dreamt of the day they would be in downtown Manhattan performing in front of millions.
“We would always set up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving and put the parade on,” Emma said. “I just remember always thinking that, ‘man I would love to perform there someday.'”
The iconic floats and giant balloons are a staple of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. But for Emma, a drum major in the Punxsutawney Area marching band, it was always the Great American Marching Band that she looked forward to seeing most. And on Thursday, her dream of performing with them will come true.
“It’s very exciting because that’s a big audience but that’s also a lot of pressure,” she said.
She arrived in New York City over the weekend and has been working with her new band members and producers, to make sure everything is perfect. She said working with professionals has been difficult, but fun, adding they’ve gone through rigorous rehearsals before Thursday morning’s performance. She said this experience is a testament to how far she’s come since first joining the band.
“If you just work hard and make something your goal, you can go from being a scared little eighth-grader to being a senior in the Macy’s parade,” she said.
For sophomore Natalie Miller, dancing in front of more than 50 million people has always been a dream for her as well. She said her family would always gather around the television on Thanksgiving morning and watch the parade.
“It’s just so unreal, it feels like a dream right now,” Natalie said.
She was chosen to join the Spirit of America Dance Stars. A huge accomplishment for her, not only for reaching this level, but she was also one of only the individual dancers to be selected to perform, that did not come to New York as part of a larger dance team.
“50, or 20 girls came together. We came alone knowing that we were one of the individuals that got selected, so we’re very proud of ourselves,” she said.
The two Punxy natives are excited to explore NYC this week. For Emma, she’s most excited to see a Broadway play for the first time. As for Natalie, she is most looking forward to seeing the Radio City Rockettes perform. But most importantly, they can’t wait to represent their hometown on the big stage.
“All the teachers at school, my friends my family. I know I have a lot of people I know who are going to be looking for me,” Emma said.
“Well, there’s 600 of us, you’ve got to look very hard. But I’m in the second row, so it will be very easy to find me. It just depends on where they put the cameras,” Natalie said.
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