News: Musicians march together for Thanksgiving
Story by Cpl. Melissa Karnath
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. - A group of 80 Marine musicians are scheduled to perform in the Macy’s Thankgiving Day Parade in New York City, Nov. 28, starting at 9 a.m. ET with a highlighted performance at 10:48 a.m.
In 2011, Marine musicians were selected to play in the parade by the Macy’s committee, according to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Szabo, officer in charge of the East Coast Marine Corps Composite Band. He said that for the first time in known history, a Marine composite band has been formed on the East Coast for a performance.
To better represent the Marine Corps, the Quantico Marine Band of about 45 Marines combined with Marines from 2nd Marine Division Band at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., to form the East Coast Marine Corps Composite Band.
Due to budget constraints, the three Marine bands closest to the parade location were selected to participate.
The musicians will represent the Marine Corps on a national level in the parade, which is watched by about 50 million people each year.
To prepare the composite band for success, music was selected more than a month ago, and the Quantico Marine Band recorded a video of the marching plan for the highlighted performance, Szabo said.
The composite band rehearsed for three days before departing to the parade location, Nov. 27.
“It speaks a lot to the standards of the Marine Corps that you can go to any Marine band and within a few days be marching seamlessly with a different unit,” said Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Otis the enlisted conductor for the Quantico Marine Band.
The most enjoyable part of rehearsals has been getting together with musicians they know from other units or the Naval School of Music.
“I really love playing (music) with other people I normally don’t get to play with,” said Cpl. Judah Arnold a trumpet player with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band. “Everyone is willing to work each other.”
“It is very motivating to witness 80 Marines come together, drop the baton on the down beat and they are all there playing together,” Szabo said. “I’ve been very pleased with how everything has come together.”
The musicians will have their final rehearsal in front of Macy’s at 3:40 a.m. for ten minutes, Nov. 28.
The musicians are scheduled to march along the parade route about two miles to Macy’s Herald Square. They are scheduled to play “Strike Up the Band” at approximately 10:48 a.m., which will be televised on NBC.
“It really is an honor to be able to represent the Marine Corps on a national scale,” Otis said. “It’s something that we all strive for but it isn’t all that common to be able to represent the Marine Corps and all the things the Marine Corps stand for at a national level.”