Every year, millions of people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, either in person in New York City, on TV, or, in a thoroughly modern way, on the Internet. Some watch for the Broadway performances prior to the start of the parade at Macy’s. Others watch for the balloons and floats. Some of you may even watch for the pop stars who “sing” when they reach Macy’s (really, does anybody watch for lip syncing?). I, and many of my friends, however, watch for the only guaranteed LIVE performances at the parade – the marching bands and, in some years, the drum and bugle corps invited to march the parade each year.
When it comes to drum corps in the Macy’s parade, it is always a standout experience. Their performances are either bigger, louder, or both. One of those performances may be one of the few times where Willard Scott was left speechless, so you know it was also overwhelming. Every time, though, a drum corps in the Macy’s parade is guaranteed to be entertaining.
Our first example is also the most recent – 2014 and the Madison Scouts. When the Scouts do Macy’s, they do it BIG. As you can see from the video, over 300 brass, percussion, and guard members joined forces from both the 2014 membership and from the previous 75 years of the corps’ history. The above video does not do the corps justice since they don’t start playing until the camera is past half the group. Fortunately, another parade viewer and Scouts fan recorded the performance on their TV.
In 2005, it was another drum corps with a long and storied history who made their appearance in the parade. The Cadets, coming off their 10th DCI world championship, capped off their ’05 season by reprising one of their hits from the 90s, Swing, Swing, Swing.
We go back to the 90s with our next two examples, both of which were, literally all-star performances. In 1991 and 1994, multiple regional drum corps associations, both junior and senior, sent their best performers as a unit to perform in New York. For 1991, the performers came from DCI, DCA, DCM, ODCA, EMASS, DCNY, and FMAQ, covering just about every region on this side of the Mississippi. This was the performance where the commentators, including Willard Scott, literally could not say anything as the corps left the performance area because of how loud they were.
Three years later, DCA and DCE got the corps back together for another all-star experience. While there were less organizations involved, it was just as loud and powerful as it was in ’91, though this time Willard was able to introduce the next group as the all-star corps left the performance area.
Of course, there have been other drum corps in the Macy’s parade, but they, for the most part, pre-date the parade on TV or, at least, people owning VCRs. Still, we get to enjoy these performances and, hopefully, many more in the future.
2018-11-22 UPDATE: Facebook user Steve Hodousek found footage of the Hawthorne Caballeros performing in the 1972 Macy’s parade! Thank you, Steve! The Cabs are at 47:52 in the video.