Skyler and Mackenzie Lucas had heard the stories about how their dad, Bryan, marched
in the 1986 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when he was in the Kokomo (Indiana) High
School Marching Band.
Both grew up dreaming of someday following in his footsteps. Not only did the dream become a reality when each performed in this year’s Macy’s parade as members of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, but they did so with their dad cheering them on from the Manhattan sidewalks.
It was an experience the sisters will never forget, especially since it was their
final moment as members of the Pride of the Mountains. Skyler graduated in December
after sticking around an extra semester in order to perform in the parade. Mackenzie,
a junior, will not be a member of the band next year.
“The reason I came to Western is because Western marched in the parade five years ago and I saw them on TV,” Skyler said. “All I knew is I wanted to continue band in college. I was like, ‘I’m going to go to Western.’ It was the only college I applied to. That was my goal all along when I found out we were going. It was even better that my sister got to be in the parade with me and my family was there to see me in the parade. It’s just been a dream of mine to go to Macy’s because my dad was in the parade. It’s just really cool that that many years apart, we got to do the same thing.”
Neither Skyler nor Mackenzie knew their parents were coming to New York from their Apopka, Florida home. A couple of days before the parade, they were in the Hard Rock Café, and when they turned around, their mom, Mindi, was standing there.
“The reason I came to Western is because Western marched in the parade five years ago and I saw them on TV...”
The day before the parade, the sisters were in Times Square, where they were going
to meet their mom. That’s when Bryan showed up.
“It was really cool because I wasn’t expecting him to be there,” Skyler said. “Over the years, I’ve missed holidays with him. Last year, I didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with my family at all. I was a little disappointed that even though I was going to be in the parade, I was going to miss first my mom, and then my dad, during Thanksgiving. It was really nice that he could find a really cheap flight to come to New York.”
Bryan, who played the snare drums in high school, told stories of how the weather
was brutally cold. His parents served as chaperone’s during his trip. He also told
of how one band member got lost and they had to find him in an age without cell phones.
Now Skyler and Mackenzie, who both played the cymbals in the parade, have their own stories and memories to share. For Mackenzie, those memories include shopping at the Disney Store and Macy’s, visiting the Empire State Building, and eating New York style pizza and at a local Japanese restaurant.
“I really enjoyed the Broadway performances that we saw,” Mackenzie said. “I had seen
‘Wicked’ before. To be able to see it again with my friends was really cool.”
As far as the parade, “It was longer than I thought,” Mackenzie said. “We stood for two hours before we actually started the parade. That’s when it was really cold because it was extremely windy. But once we started marching, we warmed up. You get past a point where you just don’t feel it any more. As soon as you’re done, you’re exhausted, but you have so much adrenaline. You just want to lay down.”
For Skyler, her favorite memories include interacting with the crowds while marching, seeing the kids get excited about the balloons and the performers, and noticing all of the WCU band parents in attendance.
“Sometimes at football games it felt like, ‘I’m not their kid so they’re not super excited,’ which I totally understand,” Skyler said. “But in the parade, everyone seemed so excited for everything. It felt really nice because that’s what Thanksgiving is about, appreciating everybody around you. I felt like the parade hadn’t lost that.”
With their band experience behind them now, Skyler, who graduated with degrees in
international studies, Spanish and Japanese, was accepted for an internship in the Disney College Program, working in merchandise.
Mackenzie will focus on her criminal justice major, with minors in forensic anthropology and Japanese.