Alabama A&M University's Marching Maroon and White will make history on Thursday (Nov. 23) as the first HBCU to lead the 97th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,
Under the leadership of Director of University Bands Carlton Wright, the band will be accompanied by The Dancin' Divas, an auxiliary unit of the marching band who will render a special performance of the famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
After seeing the University of Alabama and Hampton University, his own alma mater, perform in the parade, Wright began envisioning Alabama A&M as one of the participants of the renowned parade that’s viewed by millions every year.
“I went to my laptop and visited the Macy’s website and I found the application on there. Right away, I just started typing in the application on Thanksgiving morning two years ago,” Wright said.
For approximately six weeks, “Wright compiled entries, letters of recommendation, videos, recordings” to complete the application process. In February 2022, he received the official confirmation that Wright Alabama A&M had been selected.
Since the band’s acceptance was confirmed, Wright says they have put in many hours of practice to give a memorable 75-second performance.
With their performance secured everyone is excited about the incredible opportunity, Wright expressed that his more anxious than ever as the event son about the highly anticipated performance
“It's just like everything is coming to reality now for me. From the beginning process…filling out the application, going through the process, flying to New York a couple of times to have meetings up there,” Wright said. “And it's really real now. So, we’re excited about that and a little bit nervous as well … But once we get started on the first step of the parade; we will be okay.”
After the band’s performance at the Macy’s Parade, Wright hopes that the band will perform at the Tournament of Roses Parade which is held in Pasadena, Calif., annually. With all of the band's hard work, Wright sees this as the ultimate reward. Also, as a alumnus of Alabama A&M, Wright is filled with pride because of the program’s achievement.
“I am a graduate of this program and we never got a chance to do anything like this when I was here playing in the band as a student. But now I get to be able to help provide this opportunity for our students,” Wright said
In addition to Alabama A&M, other performers for the 2023 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are, Bell Biv DeVoe, Brandy, En Vogue, and many more.
Hosted by Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, and Al Roker, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends by 12:00 p.m. ET.
The parade will air on NBC and can be streamed on Peacock.