PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — For members of the Topsail High School marching band, Thanksgiving is about to get a little breezy.
Next Thursday, almost 100 students from the Hampstead school will march down State Street in the Windy City as part of the 86th annual Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. The event, which is expected to draw thousands of onlookers from across the globe, will be broadcast on WGN9 and streamed at wgnamerica.com starting at 9 a.m. EST.
“This is the biggest event that our band has ever been a part of. I’m proud to be part of the leadership team that made it happen,” senior drum major Christopher Spillane said.
Over the past several months, band members have practiced every week in preparation for the big day, as well as their weekly performances at Topsail football games. In addition, students have taken part in numerous fundraising activities, including the 2019 Pirate Classic Band Competition back in October that drew bands from across Southeastern North Carolina to Hampstead.
That dedication will be rewarded next week. The group begins its trek via bus to Chicago on Tuesday, November 26 and will pack in a ton of educational and cultural experiences over the four-day stretch. During their stay, they will visit the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the Museum of Science and Industry, among many other stops.
Band director Jake Wentzek noted that in conversations with students, many said this will be their furthest trip from home, and some have never been outside of the Tar Heel state.
“Marching in front of thousands of people is a memorable experience in and of itself, but we wanted to make sure our students got the chance to see and take part in things they wouldn’t normally,” Wentzek said. “We’re excited to give them a once-in-a-lifetime experience they will remember for years to come.”