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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Sikeston high school musicians join historic parade

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sikeston Senior High School seniors Shelby King, pictured above, and Jacob Pipkin, pictured center below, of Sikeston were part of Macy's Great American Marching Band for the 82nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
(Submitted photos)
SIKESTON -- Two Sikeston Senior High School students had the experience of a lifetime Thanksgiving Day when they joined students from across the nation to perform as part of Macy's Great American Marching Band.

It was the 82nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade but only the third year for Macy's Great American Marching Band having appeared for the first time in 2006.

The band consisted of 185 of the nation's finest high school musicians with students from each of the 50 states marching with 50 flag corps members and dancers.

SHS seniors Shelby King, 17, and Jacob Pipkin, 17, were not only selected to represent Missouri but were also chosen to lead their sections in the band: King was picked from among the 42 trumpet players to march as first trumpet and Pipkin led the 13 french horn players as first french horn.

"There were definitely a couple high fives," Pipkin said. "We were both glad to get first part but we would have taken whatever we got."

The path that ended with a 2.5 mile march through Manhattan's streets in New York to Herald Square in front of the original Macy's store began with a summer band clinic.

During the clinic, participants were advised they would be given top priority if they applied for a part in Macy's Great American Marching Band.

"It was the first time we've taken any students to that camp," said Kim Whitehead, assistant director for SHS marching band. "We plan on going again next summer because it was a good experience."

King said they received a letter in September inviting them to apply.

After being accepted to be a part of the band, King and Pipkin then were invited to send in an audition tape for first, second or third parts.

Work on the music, which they downloaded from a Web site, began before they ever left for New York on Nov. 21.

"We had to have that memorized before we left but the marching aspect we had no idea -- we had to learn all that while we were there," King said. "We worked one full day and one half day to learn all the marching stuff we did in the parade."

Pipkin said while it was a new marching routine for them, they were well-prepared by Darren Steelman, Sikeston's marching band director, and Whitehead as members of Sikeston's marching band.

"We put in a lot of hours before and after school, especially during marching band season," Whitehead said.

Most of their week in New York was spent preparing for the parade but there was some time for participants to take in the sights.

"It's New York City -- coming from Sikeston it's a pretty big change," Pipkin said. "We took a boat tour, went down the river, got to see the Statue of Liberty, got to see Ground Zero even."

"The most memorable part was just the parade itself -- it was a big ordeal," King said. "It was kind of fun to be there in the middle of it. I had never seen the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade before. There were people everywhere, and they were having a good time. They seemed to enjoy it."

King said he plans to watch the next Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as he didn't get to see much of this one. "We had to stay focused or we would forget stuff," he explained.

For Whitehead, who accompanied the Sikeston students as their chaperone, "it was incredible to watch the students come together. They put that whole thing together in four days."

In addition to being able to see her band members perform for the nation, the experience was special for Whitehead on a whole different level.

"It's kind of a tradition in my family to wake up Thanksgiving morning and turn the parade on," she said. "I always liked the balloons -- seeing them all in person was really cool."

Whitehead said it was fascinating to watch all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the parade as well.

For example, the NBC television network's camera crews had each of the marching bands run through their routines twice in Herald Square for a special rehearsal so they could plan out their camera shots.

"Our rehearsal time was 4 a.m.," Whitehead said. "There were nine other bands that rehearsed before us."

Other than the parade itself, the best part of the experience was "making friends from across the nation," Pipkin said. "We made friends from Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between."

"Anyone else that ever thought about auditioning for it should go ahead," King said. "It was so much fun. I would do it again if I could."