It isn't every Thanksgiving that one gets to participate in the long-standing tradition that is the Macy's Day Parade.
But one lucky group in Madison County will have the chance to showcase their talents on this year's turkey day. The Madison Central High School's competitive marching band will be taking their talents from from off of the football field and onto Herald Square.
And as excited as they are, all 280 of them -- not including chaperones and band directors -- the path to New York City isn't paved with gold. That's why band director David Jaggie said they are hosting a fundraiser to help get everyone to the concrete jungle.
"We're asking businesses (and) individuals to help us out by purchasing miles. There are 708 miles from Richmond to New York City," Jaggie said. "We are asking folks to help us by purchase a mile for $100 to get us the rest of the way there. It will also keep the cost down individually for students and help out the students who might be able to afford to go if we didn't help them."
Jaggie said the cost of the trip would be somewhere in the $400,000 range due to many factors that people might not think of, such as the truck carrying the equipment, the gas it will take, the payment for the copyrighted music, and so much more. He noted that it would cost roughly $800 for each student to be able to attend. The deadline to raise funds for the trip is October 1.
The band, which is the largest Jaggie has ever had at Central -- and possibly in the state -- has been working concessions at Eastern Kentucky University to help raise funds whenever there is an event.
Starting next week, Jaggie will start to see new faces as band rehearsals begin, where he said they will not only be practicing for their competitions, but for the Macy's Day Parade, as well.
The arrangement that they will be playing is top secret, according to Jaggie, but first they have to pitch their idea to the creatives in charge of the Macy's Day Parade. He did say that they have been thinking up something that is distinctive to the Indians and Madison County.
"We're going to try and do something that others might not do," Jaggie said.
Prior to the parade, Jaggie said they have to record the band during one of their secret practices to send to the creative staff at the Macy's Day Parade so they can give them feedback about what will work, what would look best on camera and how it would translate to viewers at home.
They marching band found out about their opportunity more than a year ago, and while Jaggie and assistant band director Jeremiah Fowler have been working on the parade since then, the students will just start their preparations this summer.
And for Jaggie, all of the hard work going into the parade will be worth it when he gets to see the look on the students' faces when they see Herald Square.
"It's that idea, to spark that thought for them of what is possible --when I came to Central in 2006, the thought that we could eventually have a state champion, let alone three in a row, was a distant thought," Jaggie said. "We would never had dreamed this is where it was going. Now that we could be marching in the Macy's Day Parade -- it's unreal. The takeaway for them is if you stick with it and persevere, work hard, nothing is off the table for them."
After the parade, Jaggie said the students will get to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner on a cruise boat going around the Statue of Liberty and the Harbor. He said the family relationships within the band itself that is cultivated through the experience is something that the students will look back on for years to come, especially for those students who have less families in their home.
He did note that if it wasn't for the hard work of the senior band members who are now off to college, the Macy's Day Parade might not have been possible.
Reach Kaitlyn Brooks at 624-6608; follow her on Twitter @kaitlynsbrooks.