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North Band going to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

May 15, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

It was a hard secret to keep.

But North Hagerstown High School band director Noel T. Kunkle wanted to make sure he had official permission before telling his band members they were invited to perform in the Macy's 71st annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

On Tuesday - after nearly a month of holding his tongue - Kunkle was able to share the exciting news that North High's Hub Band would make its second appearance in the Big Apple institution this fall.

"It's so massive...so Hollywood, so Broadway. I get excited just thinking about it," said Kunkle, who first took the Hub Band to the nationally televised parade in 1991. "It's every band director's dream."

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Only 12 marching bands from across the United States are invited to participate in the parade each year, Kunkle said.

College bands usually make up about half that number, he said.

To be given the honor a second engagement is overwhelming, said Kunkle, who said bands face a grueling application process that includes submitting audio and video tapes and a resume of accomplishments.

The invitation is really a tribute to Washington County's outstanding school music program, Kunkle said.

South Hagerstown High School Band marched in the parade in 1960, and the Boonsboro High School Band went in 1962, according to newspaper files.

For most of the students, it holds a double thrill because it will be their first time in New York City, Kunkle said.

Of course, students will have to raise the money for the trip, which will include two overnight stays, he said.

Freshman Dustin Weaver said he never dreamed he'd end up playing trumpet in the bigger-than-life parade, which he has watched on so many Thanksgivings with his family.

"There's thousands of bands that apply, and they only pick 12," said Weaver, 14. "They just picked us out of all those bands."

Weaver said he's excited but not nervous about playing in front of the tens of thousands of spectators lining the Manhattan streets and the millions television viewers.

The idea of being on national television makes color guard member Jamie Connor a little nervous.

However, she said she thinks the band is up to the challenge.

Connor, 16, a junior, said she has had hopes of going to the parade ever since her freshman year because of the Hub Band's 1991 appearance.

Freshman Melody Wilson said she feels bad for the graduating seniors, who helped earned the honor but won't get to march in the parade.

"A lot (of them) are my friends," said Wilson, 15, who plays the clarinet. "They're kind of upset."

It's a tough break for the seniors, but a lucky one for incoming freshman, Kunkle said.

The roughly 160-piece Hub Band will play three songs as it marches along the 21/2-mile route that begins at Central Park West, goes down Broadway, and ends at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, Kunkle said.

The band will get its few moments of television exposure during a choreographed drill in front of Macy's department store, he said.

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