Students to march in Philadelphia parade

Published 9:17 pm Monday, November 22, 2010

The Nansemond River High School high-step marching band, pictured here during band camp earlier this year, will be performing in the IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia. To view the band, visit where the three-hour cast will be streamed live..

The Nansemond River High School band is high-stepping its way to the top.

The 100-plus member marching band assembled at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning to begin their journey to Philadelphia for its 91st annual 6abc IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“This is the largest group we’ve ever had, and it’s because we’re working toward a goal,” band director Edward Woodis said. “As a band and a school, we decided to aim at going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is a steppingstone to that long-term goal.”

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The parade is the longest-running Thanksgiving Day parade in America and will feature stars and entertainers from across the country, including Brandy from Dancing with the Stars and Sam Champion from Good Morning America.

There will be 14 balloons, 16 floats and 18 marching bands, including Nansemond River’s, from across the country participating in the three-hour broadcast.

“We are honored to be a part of this,” Woodis said. “We are honored to be representing Suffolk and the state of Virginia.”

Nansemond River’s is the only band from Virginia that will be performing.

Before they make it to the parade, students will performing on Wednesday night at the Academy at Palumbo in front of attendees from the 26 public high schools in Philadelphia, none of which have a marching band.

“We hope to show students how they and their peers can participate in something like this,” Woodis said.

The students also will benefit from tours throughout the city.

“It will truly be a learning experience,” Woodis said. “They’ll see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. They’ll be able to tie in a lot of things they’re learning to make what is being taught in the classroom come to life for them.”

To make it to Philadelphia and back, the students have been hard at work raising $43,000.

With a donation of $10,000 from the School Board, the students have met their goal by participating in car washes, fruit sales, band day, a summer school concession stand and football game concessions.

“The students have all worked really hard to be able to do this, and we’re all excited to be finally able to go,” Woodis said on Tuesday.

The parade will step off at 8:15 a.m. and will be streamed live on No local channels will be airing the parade.