As the smell of the Thanksgiving Day bird cooking wafts through the air in many Lodi homes, four local girls will be anxiously waiting their turn to perform along the route of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
While wearing bright green and white skirts and tops, Marissa Turner, Nicole Haley, Cassidy Suarez and Haley Clem will perform dance numbers with an estimated 500 other girls in a group called the Spirit of America Dance Team. It consists of dancers from various high schools and studios across the country as well as dancers from the American Dance/Drill Team, Crowd Pleasers, Golden State Spirit Association, Marching Auxiliarys, ShowMakers and Showtime International.
The four, who are all seniors and members of the drill team at Lodi High School, were chosen by their coach based on their experience and ability, and because they each serve as either captain or co-captain. Usually, the girls are chosen while away at drill camp during the summer. To save money, this is the first year the team didn’t attend camp.
“I was so excited that we can go, since we didn’t go away to camp,” said Clem, who serves as a drill captain.
In preparation for the parade, the girls were busy learning the routine on the computer. The toughest part was making sure they had the right timing down because it is so specific, said Turner, who also serves as captain.
The girls left for New York on Friday and, while there, will stay at the Hilton Inn in Times Square. Between rehearsals, they will get to visit the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. They will also get to take in a Broadway show and see the Rockettes. The four are excited but nervous, since none of them have ever been to New York.
“We will be like little fishes in a big pond. We’re used to Lodi and it’s tiny,” said Clem.
Lynette Haley, who is Nicole’s mother, is going along as a chaperone. Since she is a dance teacher at Lodi High School, she said the event is right up her alley.
“It’s such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think they will have this memory forever,” she said.
The parade will air at 9 a.m. on NBC. It isn’t known yet where in the parade the girls will perform. Lynette Haley said she just keeps telling people to look for the bright green uniforms with stars. The four are hopeful the event will be a success and that maybe they will get their chance on TV.
“It will be the first step to my fame,” said Suarez.