Morgan State’s band to march in Macy’s 2019 Thanks­giv­ing pa­rade

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Pamela Wood

Mem­bers of Morgan State Univer­sity’s Mag­nif­i­cent March­ing Ma­chine will take their high-en­ergy, stylish per­for­mance to New York City next year for the an­nual Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Macy’s made the sur­prise an­nounce­ment to an en­thu­si­as­tic crowd at half­time of Morgan’s home­com­ing game against South Carolina State on Sat­ur­day.

Wes­ley What­ley, creative pro­ducer of the Macy’s pa­rade, told the crowd that his team has “the great plea­sure of look­ing across the United States and hon­or­ing the finest, most ex­cit­ing, the most en­ter­tain­ing, the most fab­u­lous march­ing bands in all Amer­ica — and that search has led us here to Morgan State!”

Mayor Cather­ine Pugh, an alumna and for­mer cheer­leader, did a lit­tle shimmy dance when What­ley said the band would par­tic­i­pate in the 2019 pa­rade. Univer­sity pres­i­dent David Wil­son flashed thumbs up signs. The crowd in the stands roared.

But there was one prob­lem: The ac­tual mem­bers of the Mag­nif­i­cent March­ing Ma­chine, sta­tioned on the field to pre­pare for the half­time show, didn’t hear the an­nounce­ment.

So as the band mem­bers went through their rol­lick­ing per­for­mance — with mu­si­cians high-step­ping across the field, per­form­ers spin­ning brightly col­ored flags and dancers pirou­et­ting and leap­ing to the mu­sic — they had no idea of the honor they’d just re­ceived.

Once the Mag­nif­i­cent March­ing Ma­chine was back seated in the stands, What­ley and univer­sity of­fi­cials made the an­nounce­ment again, and the stu­dents cheered and hollered. They hadn’t been told that the univer­sity had ap­plied last spring for the pa­rade.

“It’s ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic be­cause I have ab­so­lutely never thought this band was go­ing to per­form in some­thing this big,” said drum ma­jor Ger­ald Apugo, a ju­nior mu­sic ma­jor from Ran­dall­stown. “That is a big deal to me. I am just so happy.”

Morgan’s Mag­nif­i­cent March­ing Ma­chine will be among 11 march­ing bands in next year’s pa­rade, mak­ing the 2.5-mile trek along with 8,000 other par­tic­i­pants in front of 3.5 mil­lion spec­ta­tors and 50 mil­lion more peo­ple watch­ing on TV across the coun­try.

“It’s quite the stage for young mu­si­cians,” What­ley said in an in­ter­view.

The band now has about a year to put to­gether a per­for­mance to fit with the pa­rade lo­gis­tics. Band di­rec­tor Melvin Miles said he was heart­ened that the Macy’s staff “en­cour­aged us to be us.”

To Miles, that means a stylish, showy pre­sen­ta­tion.

He promised the Macy’s show next year will have “a lot of punch.”

Wil­son, the univer­sity pres­i­dent, usu­ally heads home to Alabama for Thanks­giv­ing, but he’s happy to scrap those plans next year so he can join his stu­dent mu­si­cians in New York.

“The Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade will not be the same again af­ter the Mag­nif­i­cent March­ing Ma­chine per­forms,” he said.

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