100 Years of the Thanksgiving Day Parade

It’s not everyday that one has the chance to celebrate a centennial event, let alone, be right in the middle of the action! In the marching band world, the opportunity to march in a televised parade can be a once in a lifetime experience! However, size requirements for a single ensemble often eliminate this opportunity for smaller programs. In 2019, students from around the country are invited to be a part of parade history by participating in the Philadelphia 100th Thanksgiving Day Parade, All-Select Band! Directed by legendary John Meehan of the DCI Champion Blue Devils, this opportunity is sure to be historic! Middle schools and high schools from around the country are invited to attend and we’d like to tell you a little about the excitement and more importantly, how to join the fun!

The 100th Annual 6ABC/Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade will take place in Philadelphia, PA November 28th, 2019. The oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the country which began in 1920, is poised to create another fantastic spectacle. Like other parades of its type, it features balloons, floats, high school marching bands and celebrities. When the parade first started out it was called the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade.  It was called this because Ellis Gimbel, one of the founders of Gimbels Department Stores, wanted his toyland to be the destination of holiday shoppers everywhere! He dressed up over 50 store employees and sent them out on their first Thanksgiving Day parade. Of course another big part of the parade was seeing Santa Claus arrive, just in time to usher in the Christmas holiday! Gimbels created the Thanksgiving Day Parade here in the United States and their exuberant example inspired others to continue in this tradition in other cities. There may be other parades on Thanksgiving Day around the country, but there is only ONE original!

Group Travel Network has the esteemed pleasure of helping to create a 4 day/3night package that will faciliate the creation of the All-Select Band for this historic event! The full event will be held from Nov. 25th-28th 2019. The parade is on Nov. 28th. The package is available for groups as small as 10 students with the intent to reach groups from around the country who may not otherwise have the chance to march.

The Staff!

The opportunity to host a diverse group of students from around the country, for such a historic event, is a monumental and humbling undertaking! It cannot be achieved without the marvelous talents from marching band professionals.

John Meehan, of the DCI champion Blue Devils will be directing this combined group. He has been composing and arranging music for marching bands since 1992. He is truly excited to be working with the All-Select Band and is already hard at work selecting music arrangements and creating the program which will be showcased on national televison! Students who participate in the event will receive the music from Meehan, ahead of the parade. They will be asked to learn their part and come prepared to Phildelphia for two days a combined rehearsal and excitement with the other participants!

Rehearsals will be lead by top-notch section leaders who are outstanding in their area of expertise! We are proud to introduce them to you, now!

Jeff Grant- Percussion Instructor

Dr. Jefferson Grant serves as the Associate Director of Bands and Director of Percussion at Lowndes High School. Dr. Grant holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in performance and music theory from The University of Southern Mississippi as well as a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degree from Columbus State University and the University of Louisville respectively. He has performed with a variety of ensembles including the Spirit of Atlanta and Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps.

Andrew Hunter – Woodwind Instructor

Dr. Andrew Hunter is the Associate Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands at The University of Texas at El Paso. He also holds the Master of Music degree from Northwestern State University, and the Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Tennessee.  Dr. Hunter has worked as a clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Izmir, Turkey. His ensembles have performed across the country, most notably in Carnegie Hall in February 2018.

John Adcock – Brass Instructor

John Adcock spent seven years in the US Army Band as a performer on tuba and trombone, music arranger, and sound engineer. He accomplished all of this and deployed to Iraq and Kuwait as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Prior to his military service, John was a freelance tuba and bass trombone player and private instructor in the Orlando and Tampa Bay-areas of Florida for many years. He currently serves as a music arranger and the ensemble director at Avon Grove High School in West Grove, PA and is the owner of JA Music (JAM), a marching band arranging and consulting company. 

Kelly Ross – Guard Instructor

As a teacher, Kelly has taught many successful, nationally competing color guards in California, New York, Utah, Florida, and Georgia. In 2005 she was a color guard instructor for Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps. From 2010-2014, Kelly served as the Auxiliary Coordinator for the Color Guard and Dance Line of the Valdosta State University Marching Band.

Travis Wingate – Guard Instructor

Travis Wingate has been involved in the pageantry arts for over 20 years. He is an active member of the New York State Federation of Contest Judges and serves as a Visual Ensemble and Effect adjudicator in the fall, and a Design Analysis adjudicator in the winter with numerous circuits throughout the country. He also serves as a visual judge with Drum Corps Associates.

The Details:

Students who play large instruments which may not fit comfortably in the overhead compartment of a plane or pack well in a suitcase, need not fret! System Blue and other generous donors have agreed to help supply larger instruments for this exclusive event! The two days of rehearsal leading up to the parade will be held at the University of Pennsylvania. Package inclusions and activities in Philadelphia include a local tour with guide, as well as an exclusive evening event at National Constitution Center with DJ/dance party! Lodging and meals are included making the starting price very affordable for!

Come be a part of parade history! You can’t wait another 100 years for this opportunity! Allow Philadelphia to show you how it truly makes history come alive! Group Travel Network looks forward to working with you to help get your students involved! Please contact us at info@grouptravelnetwork.com for more information!

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