SMITHS STATION, AL (WTVM) - Smiths Station High School's Panther Spirit Marching Band will make their third appearance in 10 years in the oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in Philadelphia this week.
The school's band director, Rusty Courson, and some of the students were preparing for the trip on Saturday afternoon. Courson has been the director of bands for 22 years, and is glad to return with a new group of students.
"They knew who we were. That's one of the reason's we got a quick response. Because we had been there before and had done well," said Courson.
The band was selected along with 14 other bands from across the country to participate. The band appeared in 2005 and 2008.
"It's great opportunity, a lot of fun, it's going to be a lot of memories. something we'll remember for a long time. It really is an honor to go to such a big place in the United States and play from a little small town in Alabama," said Ryan Booth, a senior trumpet player.
"We're doing a tune called Santa's Parade, and I'm sure it'll have some songs they will recognize," said Courson.
Senior saxophone player Joshua Sanders is the drum major for the parade. He'll be guiding his band mates along the mile and a half route.
"Making the memories of going through an intense and vigorous parade. After it's all done we breath of relief and we're going to remember that for a long time," said Sanders.
The band of more than 100 will make stops in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, visiting historic places before heading back after the parade.
The parade won't be televised locally, but it will be live streamed via the sponsor's website at www.6abc.com.
Smiths Station is the 65th unit in the parade, happening on Nov. 26.