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Thanksgiving is almost here and a tradition for many families is to kick off the holiday by watching the annual MACY’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on television. This year, as you sip your coffee and watch the procession, pay special attention to the MACY’S Great American Marching Band, as two Eastside High School students will be among the talented musicians playing for the crowd.

The Pride of Eastside Marching Band’s very own Austin Barnett and Reid Waters both earned spots on the prestigious marching band—two of only eleven students in the state of Georgia selected. Overall 228 students from across the United States are participating. The musicians will perform under the direction of Dr. Richard Good, Auburn University, assisted by Barry Houser, University of Illinois.

Dr. Good is the Director of Bands at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. Mr. Houser is the Assistant Director of Bands and Director of the Marching Illini and Athletic Bands at the University of Illinois. The percussion instructor is Dr. Doug Rosener, who is the Associate Director of Bands at Auburn University.

According to Barnett and Waters, students were required to submit an application and perform a musical solo audition and post the video to YouTube to be judged and to determine part placement. Reid’s audition was actually waived as this year’s band director, Dr. Good, was already familiar with his ability; however, he still had to submit a video.

The two have already received a copy of the music to be performed and have been practicing in preparation for the big event.

“Once we get up there we will practice the actual show and the marching together,” said Austin, who said they will fly to New York next Saturday, Nov. 22.

The juniors said they are both excited to be attending but admitted they are relieved they are attending together.

“Knowing that I would be going and then finding out that Austin was going was a relief,” said Reid. “It’s nice to have someone you know going too.”

And that means a lot for both of them as their families will not be traveling with them to New York. Instead, Austin and Reid will celebrate Thanksgiving with the various members of the MACY’s Great American Marching Band.

“We will have a big Thanksgiving banquet there that Thursday after the parade,” said Austin.

In addition to the Thanksgiving banquet, the students will also have the opportunity to attend a leadership/educational workshop while in New York. The workshop will focus on leadership and encourage students to achieve their maximum potential. In addition to marching in the parade, all selected participants' package plans will include meals, lodging, and New York City sightseeing.

This year marks the 88th anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade which begins at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day—Thursday, November 27.  Stepping-off from Central Park, the Band will be cheered by 3 million live spectators, before arriving at Macy's Herald Square for their national performance for more than 50 million TV viewers watching the broadcast live on NBC.

"The Macy's Parade is an iconic, living piece of American history and culture, and I couldn't be more thrilled that two of The Pride of Eastside's (TPOE) members are going to be a part of it,” said Eastside Band Director Alan Fowler. "It's no secret that being in band can take you places, and this is proof of that.  The experience Austin and Reid will have in New York will surely be a memory they will never forget. I so wish I could get to New York to see them, but I will definitely be watching them on television.  Reid and Austin are both terrific and talented young men, and I know they will represent Eastside and TPOE well." 

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