For 15 young ladies, their director, sponsors, and families, 2013 will forever be a monumental year. After all, not many can say they have performed before a live audience of about 3.5 million and a television audience of an additional 50 million or so.
The BHS Lionettes attended a camp at SMU in June under the direction of American Dance Drill Team. Five Lionettes were chosen as “All American Honorable Mention Dancers” and the entire team earned the title of “All American Team.” With the “All American Team” title, the BHS Lionettes were invited to participate in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Thursday, November 28th. The Lionettes performed an “Alice in Wonderland” themed routine during the nationally televised event, alongside about 600 other dancers.
In preparation of the trip, the Lionettes embarked on a fund-raising campaign, needing to raise $2,500 for each girl including $1,850 for registration, costumes, hotel rooms and meals, and the rest for additional expenses that include airfare. Members worked hard to raise funds from bake sales, Bunco tournaments, a Pass the Boot night at a Lions football game, and more.
Amidst the fundraising efforts, Lionettes' Director Stacee Hetzel commented, "The 2013-2014 Lionettes have already impressed me immensely with their great attitudes and super work ethic."
Along with the fundraising, the ladies spent many hours rehearsing their routine, dedicated to representing their school and community to the best of their abilities.
Members of the Lionettes squad who performed in the parade were Mary McIver, Jamie Butts, Shelby Crysler, Shania Dixon, Emerald Fernandez, Alexis Garcia, Alex Hetzel, Jensen Limer, Madison Mayo, Destiny Muenzler, Darian Philbrick, Bethany Pittman, Karina Sanchez, Veronical Sanchez and Jennie Wagner.
The young ladies were joined by Hetzel and a few parents, on the trip of a lifetime to the Big Apple. The Lionettes' performance was unlike any have experienced, not just because of the audience size and locale, but also because the parade route is three and one-half miles long. Toward the end of the route, the ladies performed their dance routine before the national television broadcasters.
The school and community gathered for a send-off, as the Lionettes departed Brownwood for three different airports. Hetzel told the Bulletin, "We all just got what we could,” Hetzel said. “The girls who were flying out of Dallas had their flight cancelled because of weather." Seeing the crowd, sophomore Alex Hetzel told the Bulletin, "This is like a warm up for New York. I’m beyond excited that this day is here."
Once the Lionettes arrived in New York, they started practicing with the other girls participating in the parade from across the nation.
Despite nightly rehearsals and meetings, the group was able to enjoy many of the sights and sounds of New York. Some Tweeted photos of the cityscapes, Times Square, Trump Tower, The Statue of Liberty, and a team of New York firefighters. Among the many highlights of the trip was seeing the Radio City Rockettes and the Broadway performance of Disney's Newsies.
"It was a closed performance for the Spirit of America Dancers," Hetzel said, "After the show, they turned up the lights and the cast took time to speak to the dancers."
Hetzel said several of the Lionettes remarked that it was like being in a movie and that the audiences treated them like celebrities. "It was very surreal."
"It was a lot of work, putting all of the pieces together and making all of the arrangements, bit it was all worth it," said Hetzel, "It was such an honor for them to be chosen."