The Saturday before Thanksgiving in 2013, I boarded the plane and was off to New York. I was ecstatic, and even though it was early in the morning I was full of energy. I was practically jumping off the walls! A shuttle van took us to our hotel. My mom and I passed through Queens over the Queensboro bridge, and made it to our hotel even though the traffic was thick. Coming from grassy prairies and two-story buildings, I believe I was experiencing mild culture shock. After checking in, I had a dance rehearsal with about 400 other girls. The dance routine was around three minutes long and needed a lot of work before we performed it on national television.
After another practice the next morning, the first major place we took off to was the Nederlander Theatre. Everything was crowded, there was scaffolding everywhere, and a mass of girls in bright red jackets were headed to see the “Newsies.” As we headed through Times Square, my jaw literally dropped. There were so many screens; it was so bright. It was an organized mess.
On Monday, I went on a harbor cruise to see the Statue of Liberty. I haven’t ever been on a colder boat ride in my life. Seeing the Statue of Liberty was a very fulfilling moment. I’d always wanted to see one of the most well-known symbols of freedom in the United States and perhaps even the world. The Chrysler building, Empire State building, and the brand new Freedom Tower could be seen on the harbor cruise. After the harbor cruise, I rode on a subway for the first time in my life. We returned to Times Square to shop for a while before another rehearsal.
Tuesday brought a trip to the Rockefeller Center and shopping along the famous 5th avenue. Then, the dancers made their way to Radio City Music Hall to watch the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. After that we ate lunch and passed through Grand Central Station and got a closer look at Ground Zero: 9/11 Memorial. For dinner, we ate at a famous pizza place called John’s Pizza. It supposedly has the world’s best pizza, and I can’t argue with that!
Come morning, we visited the Empire State building. At the top, the view was cold yet breath-taking. The afternoon before Thanksgiving we had dress rehearsal. My mom and I visited the giant toy store featured in several movies — FAO Schwarz. I felt like a kid again and it was fantastic! A brief trip to Macy’s, where the next morning we would be performing for millions of people, was enough to make me hungry for more pizza. We ordered a pizza to our hotel room and hit the hay.
I was a bouncing ball of excited energy Thanksgiving morning. All 400 of us girls were in our bright costumes, lined up in the 21 degree cold morning air, ready to walk the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route. The experience of walking through the parade, and dancing for the people of the United States in celebration, was phenomenal. I can’t wait to go back to New York!
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