Lee De León was executive senior associate athletics director and assistant vice president for development at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
It’s all over but the marching. And, the freezing cold temperatures. UL Lafayette’s Pride of Acadiana Marching Band held a final rehearsal Friday afternoon before they head off to the Big Apple for the 79th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The 280-member band is the only band in Louisiana to be accepted into the parade on its’ first try.
“ It’s just mind blowing at this point,” said Brian Taylor, director of the Pride of Acadiana. “It’s almost too much to absorb.”
Taylor applied to Macy’s in February. He received acceptance two months later and later told band members. He made five members of the band unscramble the word “Macy’s” written in icing on five large cookie cakes.
“ I told the band we had a special performance opportunity,” said Taylor.
It’s a very special opportunity. The Pride of Acadiana Marching Band will be the sixth band in the parade. They will follow the Big Apple Float which is featuring New Orleans’ Krewe of Orpheus along with NYPD officers and FDNY rescue workers in a special musical salute to New Orleans.
The band will play several Cajun tunes during the main part of the parade as it travels down Broadway including ‘Big Chief’ and ‘Moneymaker.” ‘Winter Wonderful’ is also on the playlist.
Taylor said a special arrangement will be played for the NBC exclusive area -- Herald Square. The arrangement is a combination of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ and ‘South Rampart Street Parade.’ The band will exit with ‘Sleigh Ride’ to add some holiday fun in the mix.
Celeste Adams, a sophomore flute player from New Orleans, said this is the “parade of all parades.”
“ It’s so exciting to be a part of this,” she said. “Everybody in the band works so hard and everyone is so helpful.”
In addition to performing in the parade, the band will also tour the city and perform on the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier museum. Following the parade, members will take a dinner cruise around Manhattan Island.
The next day, students plan on sight-seeing. Some will attend Broadway shows and others will see the New York Philharmonic. The group will return to Lafayette Nov. 27.
The total cost of the trip is $250,000. Students will each pay about $150. Taylor said the band has also gotten financial support from some UL Lafayette alumni.