Million Dollar Band marches in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band made its first appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The band escorted Santa Claus’ float.  

The Million Dollar Band was one of two collegiate bands chosen from a pool of more than 100 applicants to perform in the 95th annual parade. 

The performance was more than two years in the making. The band was originally selected in September 2019 to take part in the 2020 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but their appearance was postponed because of COVID-19. 

Each year, the Macy’s Parade Band Committee looks for bands with the stage presence and the musical and marching abilities to entertain more than 50 million viewers. 

“When most Americans think of The University of Alabama, they may think about football, however, it is the exciting showmanship, entertaining performances and incredible music at halftime that captures our attention,” said Wesley Whatley, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade creative producer, after the band’s selection

Drill work for the parade began about six weeks ago, with the Macy’s performance grid marked out on Butler Field in Tuscaloosa. Kenneth Ozzello, the director of the Million Dollar Band since 2002, told Alabama News Network they used a software plug-in to adapt “from a football field to Manhattan.”

Last Friday, the band rehearsed on Bryce Lawn Drive to mimic the space available to them in the parade. 

Matt Meadows, a graduate assistant with the Million Dollar Band, shared the early morning rehearsals in New York City with his friends and family at home. 

“A 4 am rehearsal for the Macy’s parade hits different,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

The band’s first performance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was well supported by donors and attendees.  Most of the band’s 400 members attended, supported by a Bama Blitz fundraising campaign which contributed about $38,000 to travel costs. 

College of Arts and Science Dean Joseph Messina organized a viewing party, according to the Tuscaloosa News, at Per Se, a three Michelin Star Restaurant that overlooks Columbus Circle. More than 300 people signed up for a friends and family trip package to support the band in person, and about 1,000 signed up for a Thanksgiving Day dinner event. 

After marching the 2.5 miles from Central Park to the Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street, the Million Dollar Band made its way back to Alabama for the Iron Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 27.