NEW BREMEN — Ten local teens were stars for a day when they participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City last month.
Dance company members who study at the Boyd Dance Studios here joined 590 other dancers from around the country in the Spirit of America Dance Stars troupe, which immediately preceded Santa Claus at the end of the parade.
“This is the third time of going to Macy’s,” said studio owner Rhonda Boyd, of New Bremen. “In 1995, we were accepted through a dance competition and selected to be part of Spirit of America, and we went in 2003 and 2015.”
This year, Boyd called troupe organizers because, she said, “we had a good solid group of dancers.”
Boyd’s daughter, Erin Boyd-Jellison, also a studio owner, and Boyd went to New York a week before the parade, because Boyd-Jellison, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette, attended a reunion of the famous dancers. The teens arrived the Saturday before the holiday and went straight into rehearsals.
“We had rehearsals four hours a day,” said Sarah Condon, 17, of New Bremen, a student at Christian Academy Schools in Sidney. “One day, we rehearsed four hours, went out and had lunch, and then went back and rehearsed four more hours.”
The troupe members learned a three-minute routine which was performed at the end of the parade, before television cameras in front of Macy’s department store on 34th Street.
“We had a dress rehearsal in front of Macy’s one night before the holiday. It was so cold,” Condon said. It was cold waiting for the parade to start, too. The performers had to be on site two hours before they actually began walking the two-mile parade route.
“Everyone was all wrapped up in (reflective blankets). We all looked like baked potatoes. We were lying on the ground, huddled together, trying to keep warm,” Condon said. Walking the route warmed them up, but doing it in jazz shoes hurt her feet, Condon added.
Being in the parade was worth all the effort and blisters, however. Condon enjoyed interacting with the crowds along the street.
“We would say, ‘Happy Thanksgiving,’ and they would say it back to us. I would run and give people high fives. I felt really famous because everyone was cheering for us. It was a really cool experience.” The parade ended at Macy’s.
“After we performed, we just ran for the subway to get back to the hotel,” she said.
During the four days in the city, it wasn’t all work for the teens. Boyd and Boyd-Jellison met them and took them sightseeing.
“I showed them some of my favorite places from when I lived there,” Boyd-Jellison said. They took a ferry tour from Battery Park, visited the World Trade Center memorial, went to Wall Street, Chinatown and SoHo. They enjoyed the animated Christmas windows in the stores along Fifth Avenue.
Spirit of America staff had taken them on a ferry ride around the Statue of Liberty and to see the Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” about U.S. founding father, Alexander Hamilton. With their New Bremen teachers, the teens went to Hamilton’s gravesite at Trinity Church. A New York television station was taping a news piece at that time and reporters interviewed the kids for the broadcast.
“My favorite thing in New York was the Rockettes,” Condon said. Her group had seen their Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. “I almost started crying because they were so perfect with their dancing,” Condon added.
She learned that if you’re in the right place at the right time, it’s possible to meet a star in New York. Condon didn’t, but her mother did. LaRita Condon happened across a movie premiere event and got an autograph and photo with Brad Pitt. Condon and others were waiting in line to get into “Hamilton” and saw that the theater in which “Finding Neverland” plays was next door. They began to chant Matthew Morrison’s name. He stars in the latter show. He came out of the theater and tossed candies to them.
“I want to go back,” the younger Condon said. “There are too many sights to see in a week.”
Boyd sends her dancers to competitions, but the Macy Parade is the only event of its kind that she selects.
“We feel that going to New York is a very good trip for them — seeing the city. And we don’t do this often. They know it’s a rare opportunity, so they were excited. Some of them said they weren’t ready to come back,” Boyd said.
Condon hopes to do more than visit.
“One day, I want to be in a Broadway show,” she said.
The Boyd Dance Studios dancers who were in the parade were Drew Alt, 17, son of Tina and Dale Alt, of Russia; Brianna Barlage, 17, daughter of Denise and Brian Barlage, and Mikaela McGee, 18, daughter of Shannon and Kelly McGee, all of Fort Loramie; Shelby Ranly, 13, daughter of Rachel and Eric Ranly, of Minster; Ava Moran, 14, daughter of Angelina and Aaron Moran, of Versailles; Lexi Blaine, 15, daughter of Yvette and Mike Blaine, Sarah Condon, 17, daughter of LaRita and Dan Condon, Kylie Naylor, 18, daughter of Kathy and Jim Naylor, and Chloe Schwartz, 17, daughter of Joan and Mark Schwartz, all of New Bremen; and Keshia Filadelfo, 17, daughter of Kelly and Almir Filadelfo, of St.Henry.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.