By JOHN D. BOYLE, Contributor
The Vandegrift Viper marching band and Vision Dance Company traveled to New York City for an adventure of a lifetime appearing in the 2022 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
From November 20 th to 25 th Vandegrift represented the great State of Texas and won the hearts of New Yorkers and global visitors with their amazing performances, friendliness, enthusiasm, and sheer size.
Almost 28 million viewers worldwide tuned into the 96 th rendition of this holiday classic while an estimated 3 million-plus lined the streets of New York to enjoy the fun and excitement in person.
The Vipers entertained the crowds along the 2.5-mile parade route with Lonestar classics such as “Deep In The Heart of Texas” and appeared in one of the televised promotional scenes with Uncle Travelling Matt from “Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock”.
The week started off four days prior to the parade with Vandegrift students and staff along with a very sizable contingency of family and friends flying into New York ready for a fun activity packed week.
Activities included senior ice-skating night, tours of the One World Trade Center Observatory and 9/11 Museum, a choice of one of three Broadway musicals (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, “Aladdin” or “Beetlejuice”), lunch at the famous Stardust Café, exploring The American Museum of Natural History, various city tours via bus/subway and a Thanksgiving dinner cruise
on the Hudson River. Families had the option to join in the fun with a friends and family itinerary.
A very special part of the week was the Viper’s performance in Central Park at the iconic Naumburg Bandshell, constructed in 1923. The site is a place of immense beauty and historical importance hosting performances by John Philip Sousa, B.B. King, Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Berlin and The Grateful Dead as well as a speech by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Viper’s Central Park performance was one of the highlights of the trip. “The concert in Central Park was organized to bring our very large community together in one location to celebrate these fantastic students and their accomplishments. It was very, very special and we are so proud of these young adults,” said Katherine VanDoren, VHS director of bands.
New Yorkers starting their day off with a jog or stroll in the park were immediately drawn in by the music and treated to Texas warmth, hospitality and a once in a lifetime performance by one of the best bands in the country.
A beautiful week of brilliant sunshine, vivid blue skies and cool temperatures climaxed on parade day with the students reporting for their final run through for organizers and broadcasters at 1:30 a.m. The Vipers proceeded to the staging area at the start of the parade route at West 77th Street and Central Park West to await final staging.
Viper families began occupying prime viewing locations along 6th Avenue as early as 4 a.m. with clear instructions from Director VanDoren to be loud and excite the entire crowd to cheer on Vandegrift.
The parade kicked off at precisely 9 a.m. with Vandegrift fifth in the order of marching bands. Eagle eyed Viper parents erupted with loud cheers as the Vision Dance Company’s stunning new blue parade costumes and the band’s iconic black and white plumes came into view as the students made their turn onto 6th Avenue. Fronted by a Texas sized Vandegrift banner and almost four hundred
strong, the Vipers spanned an entire New York City block. Vandegrift concluded their parade at the Macy’s Herald Square where they performed a breathtaking and energetic rendition of
Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture to the loud cheers and thunderous applause from the main grandstand and living rooms around the world.
After five months of intense practicing, twelve football game performances and seven competitions (which included winning the Texas UIL 6A State Marching Band Championship and Gold Medal), Vandegrift students ended their marching season sharing their infectious energy, exceptional talent, and beautiful music with the global community by once again “Defining the Standard for marching
Leander ISD Director of Fine Arts, Mike Howard, made the trip to support the Vipers and said, “Since we opened Vandegrift High School in 2009, performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has always been a program goal. It was a proud moment to see our students represent Vandegrift, Leander ISD and the State of Texas in such a positive way! They were truly ‘Second to None!’”