As if the fanfare of homecoming wasn’t exciting enough, Morgan State University dropped some big news over the weekend with the announcement that its 150-member Magnificent Marching Machine will be playing in next year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
The band is one of more than 100 that applied to march between the floats, other bands, musical performers, honorary celebrities and the like through Manhattan on Thanksgiving. Eight other bands will be participating in 2019, according to a release.
“Today, we are proud, honored and excited to be participants in one the world’s greatest parades… and to be given this wonderful opportunity for our band to present its ‘High Stepping’-show style to the world,” said Morgan State University bands director Melvin Miles in a statement Saturday. “There is not a greater stage than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”
The announcement packed an extra punch on Saturday afternoon when Wesley Whatley, the parade’s creative producer, appeared at halftime of the homecoming game against South Carolina State University to share the big news. The Sun reported that the band wasn’t even in on it–members didn’t even know their school had applied, apparently–and didn’t learn about the parade until after they’d performed the entire halftime show. (They wound up celebrating afterward when school officials and Whatley announced it again.)
This won’t be their first high-profile gig. Morgan’s band has played in movies, including Chris Rock’s underrated “Head of State” and the more dated 1974 black comedy “Amazing Grace,” as well as the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” at the White House and at pro baseball and football games, per a release.
But this should be the ensemble’s largest-ever audience, with more than 3.5 million people lining the street in New York and tens of millions more viewers watching on screens.
The band now has a full year to prepare.