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No sleep for North High Band in New York City

November 29, 1997

No sleep for North High Band in New York City

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

They call it the city that never sleeps. This Thanksgiving, the North Hagerstown High Band found out why.

In a whirlwind trip to New York City, about 300 students and parents stayed up for about 42 hours straight so the band could march in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

It was all worth it when the 165-member band strutted its stuff for a million-plus parade-goers plus a nationwide television audience.

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"Even though the people didn't know us, they cheered for us," senior Drum Major Stephanie Overberger said when she got home Saturday.

High winds made 51 degrees seem like below freezing, but band members were instructed to wear long underwear under their uniforms.

The band wasn't close to any of the balloons that the wind buffeted out of control.

"It was worth it just to see the kids come down the street. I'd have sat through a tornado, I think," said proud mom Debbie Catherman, who also co-chairs the Band Boosters.

The band played "American Overture" and "Oh Tannenbaum."

They marched between the cast of "Seseme Street" and Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop.

There was one minor glitch when announcers said the band was from Hagerstown, Pennsylvania, but that mistake was quickly corrected. Of 10 high school bands and two college bands, North High was the only one from Maryland, Catherman said.

Michael Thomas, a senior trumpet player, said he'll never forget marching through Times Square surrounded by all the lights and giant skyscrapers.

"We really showed off Washington County," Thomas said.

The group left Hagerstown about 5 p.m. Wednesday in seven charter buses and arrived at the Radisson Hotel in Englewood, N.J., about 10 p.m.

A few short hours later, the band headed into the city for a 3 a.m. rehearsal in front of Macy's.

Before dawn, the group packed the Hard Rock Cafe for a buffet breakfast.

Then it was off to the parade lineup at 77th Street and Central Park.

Since they were placed near the beginning of the parade, they watched the rest of the parade from the top of the Empire State Building.

Later, they ate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at T.G.I.Fridays.

But the marathon wasn't over yet. The same night they saw "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway.

"It was a challenge. We were getting really tired by then," Catherman said.

The group had a night's sleep before another full day of sightseeing.

On Friday, the group saw the Statue of Liberty, toured Ellis Island and saw a Christmas extravaganza at Radio City Music Hall.

Students also had some free time to explore the city with their chaperones.

The city left quite an impression for many, including Thomas.

"I got an impression that it's quite wild," he said. "Everyone does what the want to do."

Although Thomas found New York cleaner than Washington, D.C., he said the people were more rude.

"It was so busy and so big. It was so much bigger than the Mummers' Parade," said Meghan Creeden, senior color guard captain.

This is the second time the North High Band marched in the famous parade. The first was in 1991.

The trip cost $250 a person. Some students earned money toward the trip by doing fund-raising.

It was a great time, but everyone was ready to come home. The buses got in at 4 a.m. Saturday.

"We kind of got on the bus and collapsed," said Catherman's daughter Kimberly, a 17-year-old senior who played bass drum in the parade.

They left the city at 11 p.m. Friday and got home at 4 a.m. Saturday.

Most spent a wet and dreary Saturday cathing up on their sleep.

"Today seems like the perfect day to do that," said Kimberly Catherman.

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