The Tarpon Springs High School marching band performs “There’s No Place Like Home,” a mix of familiar songs, including Phillip Phillip’s “Home,” and original songs during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City Nov. 28.
NEW YORK CITY – To the cheers of millions of locals and tourists, 200 students from Tarpon Springs High School marched down the streets of New York City in the Macy’s Day Parade on Nov. 28, bundled in coats and sweatpants to brace against the cold winds. Florida high school students aren’t used to northern winters, especially not winds that almost grounded the famous parade balloons.
Thirty-degree temperatures weren’t enough to stop the Tarpon marching band from wooing the crowds with its renditions of fan favorites, led by band director Kevin Ford, but Wednesday’s rains caused enough problems.
For months, the Tarpon band had rehearsed choreography on an 87-foot stage, a replica of the green tarp on which they would perform in Herald Square. But by dress rehearsal at 3:50 a.m. on Thursday, the tarp had shrunk to 53 feet because of the rain.
“All of our staging was based upon 87 feet; that was their guide,” Ford said. “Students had been very consistent at this point, so we were expecting dress rehearsal to go pretty much without a hitch.”
That wasn’t quite the case though, as Ford quickly realized. It took the NBC producer longer to realize that there was a problem with the performancce.
“When they went into Herald and performed live, that was doing it blind,” Ford said. “It was just muscle memory from doing it over and over and over.”
But rain and wind weren’t enough to stop the band, and Ford said the outpouring of support from the community played a role in that.
“There were a lot of people from the community there, not just our band parents,” he said. “We even had some people speaking Greek to us as we walked past them.”
City Commissioner David Banther and Vice Mayor Susan Slattery were among the crowd in New York supporting the high school band.
“They put Tarpon on the map,” Banther said.
After the parade, the band and their supporters had dinner at the Marriot Hotel overlooking Times Square, with more than 450 people joining them.
“We were all able to come together and celebrate the moment and the process that it took for us to get there,” Ford said. “All in all, it was a great experience.”