Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band helped millions of people get their Thanksgiving morning off to a rousing start when it kicked off the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a crowd-pleasing rendition of Billy Joel’s classic “Miami 2017 (I’ve Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway).” Selected to lead the parade, the Pride of the Mountains marched and performed in front of more than 3.5 million spectators lining the streets of New York, with an estimated audience of more than 50 million viewing television broadcasts of the beloved holiday event. Ten buses transported the 505 band members and their equipment from Cullowhee to the Big Apple, with another four buses bringing parents and band supporters to witness the event.
In addition, a team of WCU students studying communication accompanied the band on the trip, using skills learned in a “TV News Reporting” class to capture video and audio of the band as it prepared for the parade and marched along the streets of New York. The student broadcasters also met with Jarrett Frazier ’12, a graduate of WCU’s communication program who now works in sports production for the NBC television network out of Stamford, Connecticut. Frazier, who received the 2014 Young Alumnus Award from the WCU Alumni Association, has helped NBC broadcast Olympic Games in London and Sochi, Russia, in the two-and-a-half years since his graduation. A former student photographer in WCU’s Office of Communications and Public Relations, he was in New York to chronicle the band’s experiences, and a selection of his photos can be found here.