Morgan Harris | Staff Writer
The Hampton University Marching Force strided through New York City on Thanksgiving in the Macy’s Day Parade on Nov. 25. Out of 100 applicants, The Marching Force was selected as the only HBCU to perform in the parade this year.
The parade invited the band to participate in 2020, but the pandemic postponed their performance. Many band students were disappointed to learn that their trip to New York would be canceled but appreciated the safety protocol.
“It was something we all saw coming,” said Ace Evans, a junior Music Education major from High Point, North Carolina. “Granted, it would have been a good way to end the season but I’m glad that we were safe. I’m glad [Macy’s Parade Staff] valued safety over entertainment.”
With performances in Connecticut, other New York high schools and a pep rally in Central Park, the Marching Force made sure to leave their mark on New York City. The band’s initiative for the high school stops is to keep students interested in the arts.
“Us going to high schools is very beneficial to the arts because we are presenting an experience that students wouldn’t get anywhere else,” said Evans. “We are creating a learning opportunity for students to see that it’s possible to go to school through music.”
With a theme of a “Celebration of Family” influenced by the pandemic, the band prepared endlessly for their 90 seconds of fame since band camp.
“It showed how serious the performance was, which made me appreciate the opportunity we were given by being selected by Macy’s, especially being the only HBCU,” said Evans.
Numerous celebrities, including Hampton alum DJ Envy, former 106 & Park Host A.J. Calloway and Whoopi Goldberg, showed their support for The Marching Force.
“I just want to say good luck and have a great time marching,” said Goldberg.
Other notable alumni, including WAVY-TV 10’s Anita Blanton, showed their support on social media.
Starting at 77th Street and marching down for 2.5 miles, the band hit the Macy’s Herald Square a little after 10 A.M. and put on nothing short of a phenomenal performance for their television fame.
Playing hits like “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge and “Workin’ Day and Night” by Michael Jackson, the band paid tribute to essential workers who toiled tirelessly during the pandemic.
This isn’t the first time the band has made headlines and performed for thousands.
In 2020, the band traveled to Rome, Italy, and participated in the country’s New Year’s Day parade, performing for the pope in Vatican City. In 2019, the drumline performed in Pasadena, California in the Tournament of Roses Day Parade.