While most high school students were eating turkey and watching football this Thanksgiving, Alice Pyle was doing something much more impressive. 18-year-old Pyle was one of just 200 teens from across the country to be chosen as a member of the 2012 Great American Marching Band.
Pyle received a letter in May inviting her to send in an audition tape for the band. And before the aspiring musician knew it, she and her clarinet were on a plane to New York City for a six-day, whirlwind trip of a lifetime.
Because the band is made up of students from all 50 states who have likely never met, let alone played music together, rehearsal was a key part of Pyle's time in the big apple. The first day, they rehearsed for nine hours straight.
"It wasn't hard for me to learn the formations because I have marching experience," Pyle said.
But nevertheless, the band rehearsed for nearly six hours a day for the next two days. The group also made time for some sightseeing at Times Square and Rockefeller Center. Pyle also celebrated her 18th birthday on the trip with a cupcake and some new friends.
And then the big day came- Thanksgiving. The band did a run through of their performance at 3 a.m. in Herald Square, and then proceeded to the staging area at the beginning of the parade.
"We were about a block from the start of the parade" Pyle said. "It was neat seeing all the people lining up to watch the parade. There were little kids in awe of all that was going on."
The kids weren't the only one's in awe, though. Pyle, a tiny high school senior who had never been to NYC before, was mere feet from stars like Whoopi Goldberg and Don McLean.
During the 2.5 mile parade route, Pyle and her band mates played a rendition of Maroon 5's hit "Moves like Jagger." The biggest part of their performance though, was the Feature Show.
Pyle explained the 75 second performance:
"The feature show happens right in front of Macy's," she said. "It's where the MC's are. We played Lazy River and did special formations. Basically, we were told to wait on the red ready line and when they said go we marched on, did our drill and then marched away."
And while Pyle is able to share her experience as if it were effortless, the teen admitted that she was terrified.
"It all went so by so quickly," she said. "I was nervous but I didn't have time to think about it. We marched for more than two miles but to me it felt like it lasted a minute."
And although the actual parade flew by, Pyle said she made many close friends and even more memories.
Page 2 of 2 - "I have always loved marching band," she said. "This was even more fun though because I had the chance to meet so many people who love the same things I do. You meet 200 people you've never seen before and are friends in five minutes."
The experience will also benefit Pyle's future; following her graduation this May, she will march with the University of Kansas marching band in the fall and also plans to be in the school's wind ensemble.