Monday, November 21, 2011
Long Ago on Thanksgiving
My high school chorus participated in America Sings for several years. The basic idea was for various choral groups to join together and raise money for charity. As part of this we had the opportunity to sing in some cool places. One of them was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (You know, back when there were Macy's.) So, that year the folks from my chorus who had gotten permission to spend turkey day away from their family headed up to New York. We rehearsed with the other groups in a hotel conference room. We discovered flesh tone sparkly lycra tights at a drug store which was a huge coup, because our outfits for this were strictly regulated.
The guys had to wear white pants, white turtleneck, red sweatshirt (with America Sings logo) and a Santa hat. Us girls got to wear white skirt, white turtleneck, red sweatshirt (with logo) and a Santa hat. Same, same, right? No. The guys were allowed to wear any white pair of pants. Corduroys, cargo, chinos. Plus, due to the nature of pants, they could put long underwear or all manner of layers underneath, as long as it didn't show. The girls were issued a shiny polyester circle skirt (it did twirl really well) that was just sheer enough to display anything not flesh toned that might be beneath it. So, sure, I had an extra layer for under the turtleneck, but my bottom half was still going to be less covered. So the lycra stocking were excellent, and I layered a pair of pantyhose over the top.
During rehearsals we were split into two groups. One group was going to dance on or about the float that ran the length of the parade. The rest of us would hang out (outside, did I mention it was a particularly chilly Thanksgiving) and join the group for the Herald Square dance number. For part of our Herald Square number we were being joined by Clifton Davis (who Wikipedia tells me I share a birthday with, man, we could have bonded over that) who was at the time starring in "Amen". So, we teens lined up in rows with a path down the center and Clifton sang and danced his way down the middle stopping in little clusters that magically appeared (or were carefully rehearsed). So, the nice girl next to me in line and I got selected to be the end points of one of these clusters, to lean forward and smile and keep singing along. Then in the second day of rehearsal they changed the location of the clusters. But halfway through the day, they hated that and moved it back to us. Yay, our fifteen seconds of fame.
I did not tell my family this little tidbit, they had planned their gathering for the year around the parade, so were going to be watching together. So, the day dawned and those of us who were non-floaters, waited on a side street with other folks. It was cold. We were up ridiculously early, I guess in case the previous 22 acts all didn't show up, and we needed to go on early. (Or because it was easier for us all to be there at the start. I suppose that's possible.)
Our turn came and we headed out on the square and the music began. And when the time came for my group for form our magic cluster, the girl on the other side of me shoved me out of the way so that she could stand next to Clifton Davis. (My aunt assures me that the shoving made it on TV.) So, my family did catch a few glimpses of me, including the time that girl shoved me out of the way. And all in all, it was a fun time. And I still remember that song. (It was a Thanksgiving-ified version of "On a Wonderful Day Like Today" with a little Christmas rap thrown in.) But I have new respect for the performers and how cold some of their outfits must be.