“People literally dream about doing what we’re going to get the opportunity to do.”
Those were the words of Brownwood Lionette Alex Hetzel, one of three members of the drill team to stop by this past week to discuss their impending performance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — a first for the entire Lionette team.
“I’m really excited because not many people can say they went to New York and performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Destiny Muenzler. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing.”
The Lionettes earned the parade invitation based on their performance June 28-30 at the American Dance/Drill Team camp hosted by SMU, where Brownwood was selected as an All-American team.
“That camp that we go to is very hard and stressful,” said Darian Philbrick. “Whenever we did get (All-American recognition), we were surprised, but we worked hard for it, so it’s a good thing. It’s very exciting.”
Muenzler — one of five Lionettes, along with Hetzel, Bethany Pittman, Alexis Garcia and Shania Dixon to receive individual All-American status at the American Dance/Drill Team camp — participated in the Capital One Bowl halftime show in Orlando on New Year’s Day, but is thrilled to have potentially the entire team accompanying her on this trip.
“Our whole team gets the chance to go and we’ve never done that before,” Muenzler said. “The Capital One Bowl is really fun and I’d never really never done anything like that before. Going to New York is going to bring back memories of that. I’m really excited because I’ve always wanted to go to New York.”
The parade is the highlight of a six-day trip that balances work and play.
“There’s a strict schedule planned out for us the whole time we’re there,” Hetzel said. “There’s going to be a lot of sightseeing and a rehearsal and meeting every night.”
Among the attractions the Lionettes intend to enjoy are, “getting to watch the Rockettes, going to the Statue of Liberty and seeing a Broadway show,” Muenzler said.
“And shopping,” Philbrick quickly added.
The Lionettes haven’t been told what their performance will consist of yet, but they welcome whatever choreography comes their way.
“Just as long as we’re there,” Philbrick said.
Added Hetzel, “They’ll probably surprise us when we get there.”
Despite their new status as an All-American team and a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade invitee, the Lionettes’ performances for the coming football season won’t stray much from the successful formula configured by drill team sponsor Stacee Hetzel.
“We’re still going to be doing what we’re doing, but we’re still getting some ideas for next season,” Muenzler said.
Alex Hetzel added, “We might work a little bit with the band this year.”
Whether the routines deviate much in the future remains to be seen, but the smiles the Lionettes flash this fall will be much brighter, according to Hetzel.
“This gives us a confidence boost,” Hetzel said. “We want to shine more out there because we’re an All-American team.”
As of Thursday, a dozen members of the Lionettes were registered to make the trip to New York, which is half the squad. The cost to simply register online is $400 per girl, then hotel rooms, meals and costumes push the price to $1,850. Each girl is also responsible for her own plane ticket, as well as any spending cash. Stacee Hetzel stated this past week the girls are aiming to raise $2,500 to $3,000 apiece, and as a group they are attempting to generate $25,000 overall — by the Sept. 15 cut off date. The number of Lionettes who make the trip to New York is dependent upon the number who raise the amount of money required to do so.
“We raised some money this week by going around to different businesses, but we still need a lot,” Philbrick said.
Currently, fundraisers planned by the Lionettes include baked goods and brisket wraps for sale at Walmart from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 10, along with an Aug. 20 Bunco night at Grand Starz Ballroom with an entry fee of $10 per person. Also, an account has been established at the main branch of TexasBank on Fisk Avenue for those who wish to donate to the cause. Proceeds from last week’s Little Lionettes camp will also be used toward the trip.
“Any type of donation can help us,” Muenzler said.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route was recently revamped and covers almost three miles which, the Lionettes joked, will require additional training to get in shape for the march in November. Regardless the distance, the Lionettes are elated to have the opportunity to be part of arguably the most famous parade on the planet.
“Everyone sits at home and watches the parade on TV,” Philbrick said. “I never thought I’d be walking in it.”