While sleeping in may be the order of the day for many high school students on Thanksgiving morning, 15-year-old Paige Zimmerman has other plans this year.



The Washington Community High School sophomore was selected to join more than 200 other student musicians from around the country to march in the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. She will be a member of Macy’s Great American Marching Band.


While sleeping in may be the order of the day for many high school students on Thanksgiving morning, 15-year-old Paige Zimmerman has other plans this year.

The Washington Community High School sophomore was selected to join more than 200 other student musicians from around the country to march in the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. She will be a member of Macy’s Great American Marching Band.

 The band was first formed in 2006, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the parade, and includes representatives from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Stepping off from Central Park, the band will be cheered by 2.5 million live spectators, before arriving at Macy’s Herald Square for the national performance for more than 50 million TV viewers watching the broadcast on NBC.

 Students were selected based on their musical ability and achievements. The opportunity was open to students from 14,000 high schools across the United States.

A member of the Washington Community High School marching band, Zimmerman plays the clarinet. Along with WCHS Band Director Jim Tallman and several other members of the band, she attended the Smith Walbridge marching band and leadership clinics at Eastern Illinois University during July.

It was there that she learned of the opportunity to apply for the band. Although an audition tape is normally required of would-be members, the requirement to send a tape was waived for participants in the nationally-recognized clinic. Within a few weeks of sending in her application, Zimmerman got the word that she was selected.

“I honestly didn’t believe it when I first heard. My mom came to one of my band rehearsals. I thought it was bad news or I was in trouble,” Zimmerman said. “When she said, ‘You made it!’ I just freaked out. I got so excited, I ran and hugged her and my friends. There was a lot of hugging and stuff.”

 The band will be under the direction of Dr. Richard Good, Director of Bands at Auburn University, and Ohio State University’s Dr. Jon Woods, director of the award-winning, “Pride of the Buckeyes” Ohio State University Marching Band.

Members of the band will arrive in New York the Saturday before Thanksgiving and will have daily rehearsals leading up to the parade. The band will stay in a hotel 12 miles from New York City and practice at the nearby Teaneck (New Jersey) Soccer Coliseum.

“It will be interesting because I won’t know everybody’s marching styles. And it will be a different size band than I’m used to,” Zimmerman said.

The band will perform two songs, “The Foot Lifter,” arranged by Henry Fillmore during the parade, and “When Saint Nick Comes Marching In,” arranged by Robert W. Smith, during the Madison Square Garden performance.

While in New York City, band members will go to the World Trade Center Tribute Center, the Top of the Rock observation deck in Rockefeller Center, enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner/dance, and attend the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the world-famous Rockettes.

The students will also attend a leadership/educational workshop, focusing on leadership and encourage students to achieve their maximum potential.

 Although meals, lodging and his uniform will be provided, Zimmerman has to pay a participation fee, as well as her travel costs.
She will be using money earned by babysitting over the summer to pay for the trip.

Regardless of the cost, she sees this as an excellent musical opportunity and chance to see the Thanksgiving Day parade from a unique perspective, as well as make new friends from around the country. As an example of the friendships that are formed in the band each year, an alumni event for the Macy’s band is being planned for 2011 at Universal Studio’s in Orlando.

 Zimmerman is the daughter of Charlie and Missy Zimmerman, who will also be traveling to New York City with their other daughter, Corinne, to see the parade.

“It’s a chance of a lifetime to see your child march in a parade with so much history and spectacle behind it,” said Zimmerman’s parents, Charlie and Missy Zimmerman. “While we probably won’t see much of her during the week, at least she’ll know we’re in the crowd supporting her all the way!”

Zimmerman said she is also touched by the excitement of her friends even though she told them they probably will not be able to see her on TV.

“One thing that made me smile the most was one of my friends said, ‘Tell me where you are going to be so I can at least say I saw your plume.’”