Playing alto saxophone, Sue Waterhouse, a 1976 graduate of Chetek High School, will be marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, New York, with the Second Time Arounders Marching Band.
The band—based in St. Petersberg, Fla., where Waterhouse spends the winter—is 450 members strong. It is the world’s largest community marching band, composed of anyone who marched in high school, college or military bands. Members range in age from 18 to 85 years old.
Waterhouse is excited to march in the parade. It was “an opportunity to be a part of one of the world’s largest bands and play in the grand-daddy of parades,” she said of why she joined the band.
She is no stranger to the rank and file. At Chetek High School, Waterhouse remembers playing in the marching band under the direction of band teacher James Borgaro. Waterhouse, started a community marching band in Haines, Alaska, where she now lives.
This will be her first time marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She is one of 40 saxophones in the Second Time Around Band, which marches in rows of 10. The band and instrument sections have been practicing since mid-September, Waterhouse said.
The Thanksgiving Day parade route is 2.5 miles long, from Central Park to Macy’s Herald Square, where they will perform the song “Enchano.” They will perform the songs “Evil Ways,” “On Broadway,” and “Enchano.” They will do a routine with Enchano in Herald Square, Waterhouse said. The routine is 1:36 minutes long, she noted. Everything is timed and keeping schedule is crucial so that Santa Claus appears on TV right before the end, at 12 p.m.
The massive event is organized three years in advance, Waterhouse said. Of 120 bands that applied to perform, only 11 were chosen. Along with the 11 bands, there will be 30 balloons, seven “ballonicles” or balloon based vehicles, 34 floats and 21 performers, plus a variety of clowns along the parade route.
With family, the group is bringing a total of 850 people to New York. Their group will take up an entire hotel in Times Square and they need two semi trucks to haul their instruments.
This is the second time the band has marched in the parade, with the first being in 2008. The band is in its 39th season.
Waterhouse’s friends, Kathy Nelson, a 1967 CHS grad, and Waterhouse’s cousin Lori (Knutson) Pfaff, and Pfaff’s daughter Katie, will be coming to New York to watch her perform.
With 3.5 million people spectating along the route and 50 million more watching worldwide the performances at Herald Square, it is a huge event.
“It’s really quite an honor,” Waterhouse said.
She said she will be in the second row of saxophones, behind the drums.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade can be viewed on NBC TV, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28.