Chicago Thanksgiving Parade Welcomes Nearly 600 High School Musicians

While many people tune in to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while they’re waiting for the turkey to cook, some people keep their eye on more local happenings. This year’s Thanksgiving Day parade in Chicago is one example.

The parade moves through downtown Chicago every year, but this year was the first in almost a decade where the parade included students from the five high schools that make up the U46 Unified Marching Band. 566 students joined the parade, an impressive feat to say the least. The last time this happened was in 2008 when 400 students from multiple bands joined together to create beautiful music.

Last year Bartlett High School band director Eric Hollaway submitted an application to the city’s festival association for his band to participate in the parade. However, he soon realized that none of the other local band directors had participated in a unified march. None of them were around during the last one.

It’s an impressive feat to direct one band, but five? Even more so. The 500+ student band only practiced together in full twice in preparation for the Thanksgiving parade: once in October and another just the week before the parade. There were so many students that it was impossible to take a photo that captured all of them!

The numbers could have been a problem, but the school district chipped in with 22 buses to transport the students from their respective schools to downtown Chicago. Hundreds of family members and staff members also journeyed to watch the parade.

The unified marching band lucked out, as did every other participant in the parade: the weather was good. The reception was also warm. Band directors have already been fielding questions about when a unified march will happen in the future!