Virginia band marches to Macy’s for Thanksgiving Day Parade

Look for the Cavaliers' spell out during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo Bill Ross Look for the Cavaliers’ spell out during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Photo Bill Ross


This week, families and friends will come together to celebrate Thanksgiving by eating turkey and watching football. For many families, the Macy’s 89th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade will also be on the agenda, and for.Virginia fans, it will be even more exciting. The Cavalier Marching Band will appear for the first time in UVA history as one of 13 marching bands in the parade.

To get to New York, the Cavaliers need to raise $250,000.. All in all, the fundraising process has been fairly successful, with only $13,000 more to go, according to. Ann Lawrence Grasty, the director of university annual giving, who says there have been over 1,000 individual donors, half of whom have never donated to the band before.

The donations ranged from $50,000 matching gifts, $4,000 individual donor gifts, and even 25 cents from a little boy. “Every donation was made with just as much love for the band,” says Grasty.

Associate Director of Bands Andrew Koch says the band has been preparing all year for its performance, which will include an hour-long march routine in front of the more than 3.5 million live viewers at the parade itself, as well as a special performance for the estimated 50 million TV viewers.

“When we’re on TV, we’re actually going to do a spell out,” a marching band tradition at UVA football games, Koch explains. “Our first spell out is going to be NYC, just to say thank you to the city for letting us be there, and then we’re going to transform that to UVA.”

Koch says that all 320 members of the Cavalier Marching Band are looking forward to the event, despite a 2:30am practice the day of the parade. However, the marching band also has UVA’s last two home football games to prepare for on November 21 and 28. While the focus is on the Macy’s performance, “we’re still trying to do everything we can to entertain the folks at home,” Koch says.

He feels confident about the band’s rehearsals so far, saying they’ve been “chipping away at it” for the whole semester.

“They feel a tremendous responsibility to do a great job,” Koch says of the students, “and they’re doing everything they can on top of their exams and classes being busy.”

Cavalier fans watching the parade, in addition to the Virginia spell out, can expect a performance of UVA’s “Good Old Song,” which will be played in the band’s TV performance. Koch hopes that along with the students having a great time, the camaraderie will extend to the viewers.

“Hopefully people will be saying, you know, ‘Hey, that’s our state! That’s our school! That’s our band!’ We just want to give everyone a good reason to be happy to be a Virginian,” Koch says.