Two students take part in long-time tradition in NYC

Published 3:54 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

While most people watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from their living room, two seniors from Fort Dale Academy got the special opportunity to march in it.

Elizabeth Anne Nordgren and Barrett Leverette jumped at an opportunity to be a part of the Spirit of American Varsity Cheer. The girls went with the Universal Dance Association, which falls under Varsity Cheer.

The program allows captains from dance teams and cheerleading squads all over the country to fly themselves to New York and partake in the parade.

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The girls flew to New York City on Saturday and stayed for one week. They were able to see a Broadway play, the Statue of Liberty, the Rockettes and shop down Fifth Avenue.

However, it was not all fun and games for the girls. There were many rehearsals and long nights of practicing the routine with about 650 other members.

“We got there on Saturday and we had rehearsal that night from 9:30 to 11,” Nordgren said. “On Sunday, we had two rehearsals. Monday, we had another practice that night.”

On Wednesday, the girls had a final dress rehearsal.

“That night they said it was like the real thing and if you don’t do it right we’re going to move you,” Nordgren said. “They moved a lot of people but we didn’t get moved thankfully, but it was really nerve racking.”

The day of the parade, the girls waited outside in the cold for an hour and a half before they started walking the three-mile parade route saying “Happy Thanksgiving” and doing small cheers.

A favorite moment for the girls was finally reaching the famous Herald Square.

“Whenever Matt (Lauer) was announcing us and we were running out, you could hear him saying this is Varsity Spirit Cheer coming on now and that was an exciting moment,” Leverette said.

Nordgren said her favorite moment was right before she ran onto Herald Square.

“I think the moment right before you run on to dance is the part I will always think of because you’re just so excited because you’re dancing on national television in front of all these people that are there to and it was just this awesome feeling,” Nordgren said.

To identify themselves as dancers, the girls were required to wear blue jackets that said “Performance Team” on the back.

“One of the things that surprised me was when we were all in these blue jackets and people would stop us on the streets to ask us why we were there,” Leverette said. “Our roommates got pictures with this little girl who was asking how much the pictures cost. I thought that was fun, just the fact that we were up there and people were excited to know who we were and why we were there.”

It was a trip the two said they would never forget and enjoyed not only the sight seeing by being part of a large tradition.

“I had never been to New York and I always thought the Macy’s Day Parade was just awesome and I got to do both,” Nordgren said. “It was a great way to get to tour New York.”