, 2014

Two NHS seniors dance their way into
the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

by Renss Greene

Two seniors from Northumberland High School are in New York to perform in the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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Lauren Self and Katie Crowther, co-captains of the Northumberland High School dance team, have travelled to New York for a week of rehearsals and sightseeing, culminating in a long, cold walk through Manhattan—as millions of people across the country watch.

Sending Northumberland students to participate in the parade would have been unimaginable even a few years ago. School counseling assistant Holly Swann, a lifelong professional dancer, started the dance team two years ago. After getting dancers together for two football halftime shows and a talent show, Swann asked the administration to let her start a dance team. One of her dancers was the stepdaughter of then-principal David Dixon.

“He said, ‘well if can you teach Sydney how to do the running man, then I’ll support you in having a dance team,’” Swann recalled. “It was kind of a joke, but... I taught her.”

The NHS Indian Spirits dance team was formed. Now, in its second full year, the team is sending two representatives to dance in the famous parade.

The dancing portion of the parade is called “Spirit of America,” and includes the Spirit of America team of professional dancers and Varsity Spirit, the high school dancers. To participate, dancers must be seniors at their schools, officers of the dance team, and attend a Universal Dance Association dance camp. Crowther and Self learned about the opportunity from an information packet about the camp.

“About a week later, they came to me and said ‘we’re going to try to go!’” Swann said.

The trip’s busy six-night, seven-day schedule will have a lot of firsts for the two dancers. They have a packed itinerary, with a whirlwind tour of the sights of New York and intense practices almost every day.

“I’ve never even been to New York, and I’m dancing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Crowther. She has been dancing since she was age 5, including tap, ballet, and jazz.

Self only started dancing when she joined the Indian Spirits dance team. The idea caught her interest when she watched her friends practice for the talent show. After learning a few moves at home, she approached Swann and asked to try out.

The two don’t dance for lack of something to do, either. Self also plays softball and volleyball, and Crowther plays softball, basketball and volleyball.

The dance team helped raise funds to make the trip happen. The cost per person is $1,850 plus transportation.

“I just want to say thank you to everybody that like supported us in fundraising,” Crowther said.

“They’ve done lots of fundraising throughout the community,” Swann said. “They did a barbecue sale, and carwash, and they had a jar out at Lilian (Lumber) that people put change in, and they did cup sales, went to businesses, and the community really gave them a lot of money. And the rest of the team sold cups for them, and they came and helped with the barbecue sale. The whole team has supported them.”

Now, the girls are only worried about the cold. Their uniforms are close-fitting and not very thick. The forecasted high for Thursday in Manhattan is 36 degrees.

“They said you can wear something underneath it,” said Self.

“Thermals or whatever, as long as it’s not bulky. And mine’s like skin-tight!” added Crowther.

But the weather does nothing to dampen their excitement.

“We’re like counting down the days,” Self said a few weeks before leaving.

Swann has insisted the two call her every night. She says they should be on TV at around 11:10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. They will be in the middle of the second and third rows, where Swann says they will be visible.

“I would have never like, done anything like that without Miss Swann,” Self said.

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