Seniors perform in televised parade

MaKaia Brown

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Over Thanksgiving break, the 12 senior Southern Belles traveled to New York City to dance in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Each year, the girls receive an invite from Encore Creative Productions to perform in the parade. The officers on the team attend a camp ran by women who work for Spirit of America, allowing the girls to perform without an audition.
The trip costs $2,200 dollars per Belle, but the girls planned fundraisers to raise money for the trip. To hit the goal, the Belles held the Little Girl’s Clinic, sold raffle tickets at football games, hosted Parent’s Night Out, and worked the concession stand at the Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair.
“At the Little Girl’s Clinic, we hung out with the girls and had snacks. Then, we taught the girls a dance and at the football game a couple of weeks later, the girls performed with us,” senior Lauren Ballard said.
Seniors Maggie Coleman, Shelby Ralston, and Stephanie Nguyen taught the parade dance to the other Belles after learning it themselves via email. When the seniors arrived in New York, they attended practice that night for five hours to establish formations for the performance. Following their arrival, the Belles, along with 600 other girls, practiced five to eight hours everyday to ensure the team knew their performance.
“There are different parts in the dance and we didn’t know which we would be assigned, so the officers taught us both,” senior Barrett Weidman said.
In between practices, the girls seized the opportunity to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway and watch the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall. The team also made time to view the city together and travelled on a boat cruise to the Statue of Liberty; later, they explored the 9/11 Memorial and toured Soho to view all the different boutiques and shops available.
“I was pretty anxious when we first got in New York because I had never been in such a big city. The anxiety gave way to excitement really quickly though because the Belles got in such a fun chaperone group. Our chaperone was responsible, so I didn’t worry about anything. All the New Yorkers we met were really nice and helpful, so it made it a great experience,” Weidman said.
Once the Belles finished their performance in the parade, they met back up with their family members at their hotel. Many of the families traveled to famous locations around the city and ended their Thanksgiving in a nice restaurant.
“It was the best feeling in the world. After the two mile walk and it was time to perform, we hit the beginning formation. I was shaking because of how nervous I was to perform on national television. I could not believe my time had come,” senior Lydia Hagen said.


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Seniors perform in televised parade