On Thanksgiving, many people visit family and friends, for 142 Tiffin Columbian band, flag squad and majorette students, they braved the cold that day marching in Chicago's 80th annual McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
A trip like this is every four years, said band director Mike Meadows. About $40,000 was raised for the trip through the band boosters and several fundraisers, Meadows said.
Senior snare drum player Hunter Stark said the fundrasing took place at the beginning of his freshman year.
Tiffin Columbian Band marches in the 80th annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago.
"Every time we raised money, it decreased our price for the trip," Stark said.
Stark said he joined the band because of a performance of the drumline he had seen in seventh grade.
"It was my love of music and I knew I wanted to be in the drumline one day," he said.
This was the third chance for the band to perform in Chicago's parade, the last being in 2009, Meadows said.
The band was one of 20 participating marching bands from around the country. They were chosen based on their past performing experience at events including Tiffin parades, Cedar Point's Halloweekend Parade, band shows and athletic games, Meadows said.
To prepare, Meadows said the band practiced in the weeks leading up to the parade and worked on selecting well-known music that was relatable to the audience.
"It is also important to choose music that challenges the students," he said.
A couple of the selections were "Sweet Child O' Mine," by Guns 'N Roses and "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osborne.
"This opportunity is exciting for the students to be able to perform for a larger crowd and get the exposure and taste of a different culture," Meadows said. "The opportunity offers different educational and life experiences."
Along with the parade, the students visited several attractions, including Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and saw a performance of the Blue Man Group.
Junior Emily Glover, who plays flute, said the opportunity was a wonderful experience.
"Many don't get the chance to get out of town," Glover said.
She said it was her love of music and participating in something with her friends that attracted her to play in the band.
"The work with practicing and fundraising really pays off in the end," Glover said.
Stark said the best part, was "coming back to all the phone calls from family members and friends saying they saw you on TV."