Cheerleaders Have Great Experience In Macy’s Parade

Posted on December 1, 2013 in Cheerleading, Cheerleading, Fall Sports, Winter Sports
Oak Hill cheerleaders, Marina Allen and Alexa Hamilton (center), perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Oak Hill cheerleaders, Marina Allen and Alexa Hamilton (center), perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

By Jillian Fellows jfellows@chronicle-tribune.com

Thursday morning was a dream come true for three Oak Hill cheerleaders.

Marina Allen, Alexa Hamilton and Kathryn VanNess were among the many participants in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Allen and Hamilton qualified to be in the parade festivities through the All-American Cheerleading squad, a national team they were eligible to join after trying out at Universal Cheerleader (UCA) camp over the summer. Because all senior and captain cheerleaders are also eligible to participate in the Macy’s parade, VanNess was able to join in on the fun as well.

When Thursday morning rolled around, the girls suited up and braved the cold to entertain the thousands who lined New York’s streets to watch the parade.

“It was everything I thought it would be,” Marina Allen said. “You never really think there would be so many people who are supportive of cheer until you’re there walking in the parade. I know most people would say their favorite part was Herald Square, where we got to perform, but for me, the best part was walking along and seeing the people. They came out so early to see us and support us. It sort of made me feel like a celebrity. Everything was exactly how I thought it would be, from the floats to how it was run. Everything was so overwhelming in a good way.”

VanNess said seeing the people along the parade route was the most rewarding part of her experience.

“It was an absolute blast,” she said. “We had a lot of hard, long rehearsals, but it all paid off in the end. It was a dream come true. Just walking and waving to all the people who came out, you know they’ve been there since four o’clock in the morning and just to see how happy they are and how excited they are to see you is really great.”

Hamilton described a little girl along the parade route happily declaring that she wants to be a cheerleader when she grows up as they walked by.

“We always have these little girls that look up to us,” she said. “That’s the best part about being a cheerleader, no matter where I am.”

Though performing in the parade and interacting with the crowd was fun, the day did have its tiny let downs.

“It was a little disappointing because they ended up shaving off about 45 seconds of our performance right at the beginning,” Hamilton said. “They ended up not even showing all of our performance. They had a commercial break or something.”

The three cheerleaders spent the days leading up to Thanksgiving practicing their performance and exploring New York City with their families.

“It was an amazing experience for the girls,” said Kaloha Allen, Marina’s mother. “They were treated really well. The entire UCA and varsity staff took really good care of them. They made it an experience that will be impossible to top.”

The girls visited Times Square and went shopping, among other activities, and Allen said the time together was particularly valuable for her family.

“I enjoyed spending time with the others cheerleaders and their families,” she said. “We got to do a lot of shopping and other fun New York activities, which were great because I have two teenage daughters and Marina is a senior so she’s going to college in the fall. It was good to spend time with her.”

The day before the parade, the girls made an appearance at another New York entertainment staple.

“The day before Thanksgiving we got to be on ‘The Today Show,’” Hamilton said. “We did a little cheer for them and it was really cute.”

Being a member of the All-American Cheerleading team has led to many one-of-a-kind experiences for Marina Allen. Last year, she performed in the London New Year’s Day Parade. She said that despite the two events taking place an ocean away, they were surprisingly similar.

“They’re actually really similar,” she said. “I think Macy’s might have been a little longer. As far as the people who come out to watch, it’s really the same.”

Allen said she was surprised by the warm support for cheer in London because it’s not an established sport at schools there.

“They really seemed to relate well to the idea of cheer,” she said. “In terms of how happy people were to see cheer in general, they’re really similar.”

Staying true to the holiday’s theme, Allen said she was thankful for everyone who helped the girls get to New York.

“It was such a great opportunity and I’m so thankful for everyone who supported me,” she said. “I would definitely do it again if I could. I wish it would have been a little warmer, but as far as the experience and everything I got to do in New York, I don’t regret anything and I would do it a million times over.”

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