HAMPTON, Va. — A little bit of Hampton Roads was on full display in New York City Thursday.
The Hampton University Marching Force band performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
HU was the only historically Black college or university to participate this year.
A lot of people on social media are praising Hampton’s performance.
It’s been quite the week, and year, for the students as they prepared for a little less than 90 seconds in the Thanksgiving spotlight.
They all say it was worth it.
“I told the students, the performance is one minute and 15 seconds. But it’s one minute and 15 seconds for the rest of your life,” said band director Dr. Thomas Jones.
“You know just the countless hours of rehearsal time, even the planning, logistics,” he mentioned. “And I think the part that makes it better, the students feel the same way, and they now see how their hard work paid off.”
The Hampton University Marching Force showed the world it is a ‘force’ to be reckoned with.
Hampton was only one of nine bands chosen to perform out of more than 100 applicants, and the only Historically Black college or university.
With that in mind – the trip wasn’t just about the parade.
This week, the band’s members also made stops at New York high schools, hoping to inspire students of color to pursue the arts.
“So when the students say oh wow, look at these collegiate students, out there doing their thing. That can be me one day," said Jones.
On Thanksgiving Day, arguably few stages are larger.
An estimated 3 million people were at the parade and more than 50 million watched at home.
Celebrities, including Whoopi Goldberg, gave them a shout out.
“I just want to say good luck and have a great time marching," said the well-known actress.
But for fourth-year student and associate drum major Ravid Frye, it was all about an audience of 'one.'
“So you know to me this is special because this something that my father really wanted to see me do,” said Frye.
Frye’s father died one month ago.
He had cancer.
He, too, was a musician.
“I know that he is watching over me. I know that he is proud of me. And I did the best that I could do," said Frye.
The band’s theme was a “Celebration of Family,” inspired by pandemic.
That's fitting for Frye, and so many others on this Thanksgiving Day.
The band was supposed to perform at the Macy’s parade last year, but couldn’t because of COVID-19.
And Jones say they wouldn’t have been able to get to New York without a $100,000 donation from Pepsi.