It is November 22nd, 2007: Thanksgiving Day. I am in “America Sings,” a group formed by my chorus class, along with many others from across the nation. We all came to the Big Apple for this. We rehearsed, worked our butts off, went through sweat and pain, all for this day.
I look around at the organized chaos as we march around Columbus Circle. To my left and right are many of my friends’ smiling faces, as well as the smiles of many people I hadn’t known before coming to New York. I remember I must smile as well as we march and sing. All I see is the parade: Dancers, confetti, floats, and crowds. I hear the screams of the crowd, and my own voice is barely audible above the roar. I listen to the sounds around me, the laughter and the yells. No one is unhappy at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I search for my parents among the crowd, and, after what seems like hours of marching, I hear my name. “SAM!” my mother called, and instantly the pride, accomplishment, and excitement in her voice push tears into my eyes. I, too, am full of pride. Who knew a poor, young girl like me could ever make it, by pure circumstance, to the parade recognized and watched by millions. I continue to smile and march, dressed in under armor, a sweater, and long pants – all part of the uniform – on an eighty degree day.
I taste salt, and wonder if it is sweat or tears, or simply a mixture of both on my tongue. All around me are the sights and smells of New York. Above the crowds tower floats, balloons, and skyscrapers. The very distinct smell of a New York hot dog vendor hits my nose, and for a moment I am filled with sheer ecstasy. I am exhausted and feel almost overworked, but I know I must keep my smile. It’s all worth it – the sweat, the silly dance moves we were forced to learn, the hours of rehearsal and the hours of marching. We’re in New York! As this realization hit me once again, I put a little more pep in my step, encouraged by the massive accomplishment of just being in the parade.
Finally, we reach Herald Square, and file into our rows. We sing our hearts out with “The Spirit of America,” and dance the dance we had spent months learning and practicing. We were all middle and high school students, but no one seemed to be overwhelmed by the end of our dance. Rather, we were relieved to finally be at the end of the parade. While before we were anxious and almost nervous about our dance, now we were happy, full of pride, accomplishment, and relief. We had finally done it.
This experience is one I will never forget. Traveling to New York and performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will always be one of my greatest achievements. While everyone in my group was stressed and tired of rehearsing, in the end our performance was the best it could have been. Marching and dancing in the parade changed my life – I learned that by trying hard enough, you can achieve what seems to be impossible. While it seemed I would be limited financially, I still made my way to the parade. While it seemed we’d never stop rehearsing, we made our performance nearly perfect. This travel experience taught me that when life seems impossible, there is a way to make everything work out.
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