Panthers on Parade

Five Piedra Vista female cheerleaders lined up for a portrait 

Five Piedra Vista cheerleaders perform in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the world’s largest parade, viewed by millions across the country. Celebrities perched on floats, giant balloons and performers of all kinds march from New York City’s Central Park to Herald Square, about a two and a half mile mile trek. This year, five Piedra Vista Panther cheerleaders were chosen to participate in the parade after being named All-Americans at a summer cheer camp hosted by 365 Spirit.

“I’m proud of our whole team for their hard work and for that hard work to really pay off for some our team with All-American selections is great,” PV head cheerleading coach Arlie Hankins said. “It’s a reflection of the dedication of our whole team and we were all so happy to watch them on Thanksgiving Day.”

Seniors Dacyn Groen, Zoe Logan, Bailey Amyx and Amelia LeBouef were joined by junior McKenzy Cline and freshmen Hailey Pearson at the parade after practicing their routine for weeks. It was the first time for all to participate in the parade although Groen, Amyx and LeBouef had been chosen as All-Americans in previous years as well.

“To actually be able to participate in the parade and to do it with my friends, it’s really special,” Amyx said. “

The All-American participants were send a video of the routine and each was required to learn it and practice. It was the first time any of the athletes had participated.

“It was definitely the highlight of our year,” said LeBouef. “We will start preparing for state soon and we all look forward to that, but for right now, being the parade was probably a highlight of our cheerleading careers as a whole.”

 While the parade lasts for about three hours on television, being a part of the parade was a much longer endeavor. The PV cheerleaders were up at 3 a.m. preparing before getting on the subway in the early morning hours and practicing by 5 a.m.

“The entire process was pretty grueling,” Logan said. “From practicing with our group about three times before the parade, to rehearsals to parade day, we were definitely running on adrenaline by the end.” 

At the parade, the girls were in awe of how huge the parade’s production was in real life.

“It was crazy how big it was, from the amount of people to how much was going on,” Cline said. “It was pretty nerve-racking but it was fun to be there with my friends and to give our seniors a last hoorah before they graduate.” 

Celebrity sightings included the current Miss America and Debbie Gibson. 

Pearson was the only PV freshmen to attend, making her one of the youngest in the entire performance. It was also her first year cheering competitively.

“Being one of the only freshmen chosen was pretty cool,” Pearson said. “The whole experience is something we’ll remember forever.”

While in New York City, each girl had different experiences. Some opted for elaborate Thanksgiving dinners in NYC restaurants, some saw performances but all created a life-long memory.

“For as long as I can remember I’ve loved the Rockettes,” Groen said. “To be able to see the Rockettes in New York City is a dream but to also be a part of the parade, something I’ve watched every year as a kid, is something I will remember my whole life. It’s something I will be able to tell my kids about.”