This performance will be the first by any band from the district in the historic parade through the streets of Philadelphia.
By Melissa Riker
Lenape and Seneca high schools will band together to create a large ensemble and take over the streets of Philadelphia for the 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The full marching bands from both high schools will perform the well known and loved holiday song “Jingle Bells” to millions of people watching from the parade route and on television.
Lenape High School director Steven Waldron reached out to Seneca High School director Keith Styers regarding this first-time collaboration within the Lenape Regional High School district, in hopes of expanding their community involvement to a regional or national level.
Both high schools have been involved in local parades such as the Medford Halloween Parade and the Memorial Day parades in Southampton and Tabernacle, and have each participated in larger settings, with Lenape taking on the Miss America Parade and a trip to Canada and Seneca’s band traveling to San Antonio and Magic Kingdom in Disney.
“We’ve done some pretty big venues but we’ve never gotten the chance to do a combined marching band,” Styers said. “It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun to get to work with other students from other schools. They’ve never had a chance to perform together as a joined ensemble.”
Together, the schools have earned a combined amount of 27 state, regional and national championships titles.
“We’re really excited for this opportunity to perform on a national level and to represent the Lenape district and to represent our communities,” Waldron said. “The opportunity for these kids — it’s a once in a lifetime — they’re going to have this memory for the rest of their lives, it’s going to be such a great experience.”
Lenape drum major Matthew Roos first considered becoming part of the marching band after Waldron visited his middle school to encourage students to join. Since Roos wanted to advance in his music career in high school, he took the step to join the marching band.
“I basically felt like I was a part of a family from the start,” Roos said. “I’ve learned more about self discipline, I’ve learned a lot about hard work. I really enjoy being a part of the band.”
Roos, along with co-drum majors at Seneca, Andrew Ballinger and Robbie Sunbury, felt shocked, a little nervous and very excited when they found out about their upcoming participation in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Sunbury said being a part of the marching band is rewarding when the music comes together and everyone has learned their part.
“It’s wonderful because you’re a part of something that’s bigger than just yourself,” Sunbury said.
Ballinger followed by saying it has been a nice experience to collaborate with another school.
“When it comes to band it’s just really fun to put this together and to collaborate with other people you wouldn’t normally, and just seeing what happens, it’s pretty cool,” Ballinger said.
Both directors noted that this parade will be unique in the fact that they only have three combined rehearsals to perfect their performance, compared to the months they typically spend preparing for school performances and competitions. They added that the ultimate goal is to one day have all four marching bands within the district join together.
“It’s great that we can bring these two groups together for this first — and hopefully not the last — time,” Waldron said. “I’m just so excited for the day.”
The 6ABC Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade will step off at 8:30 a.m. and continue until noon on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 22, in Philadelphia. To catch the Lenape and Seneca marching bands perform on television, tune in to 6ABC at the start of the parade. Want to see the student musicians perform live? The 1.4-mile parade route begins at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard, travels east on JFK Boulevard until 16th Street, turns left at 16th Street until the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and continues down the Parkway until making a left around Logan Circle, proceeding up the south side of the Parkway before ending after passing the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The route is free and open to the public.