With Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band performing in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, it seems only fitting that its football halftime show for the upcoming season tie in with that honor.
This year’s show is titled “Believe,” which is the word stretched across the original Macy’s storefront in New York. The show will debut in the Catamounts’ season opener against Mercer at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.
“Overcoming personal obstacles in life, having the confidence to make miracles happen while leaning on each other for support is the motivation for our 2019 production titled ‘Believe’, ” said David Starnes, director of athletic bands. “Iconic to the Macy’s storefront in New York City, as well as their annual holiday campaign, this word will serve as a season-long motivation for the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band.
“Through musical and visual pageantry, we will illustrate the power of believing in ourselves, each other as human beings, and recognizing the value of diversity in our world.”
This year’s production is sponsored by local business B.H. Graning Landscapes Inc. It was designed and implemented by Starnes, assistants Matt Henley and Jon Henson, and director of color guard Bobby Richardson. Musical arrangements were created by Doug Thrower and the drill was written by Jamey Thompson.
When the band participated in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, there were 505 members. This year, a whopping 535 members will make the trip to New York after a record of more than 650 students tried out for band membership. This year’s group consists of more than 200 freshmen and a high percentage of returning veterans, Starnes said.
Songs featured in the program include Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” “Come Alive” and “A Million Dreams” from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing,” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and “I Believe” by Blessid Union of Souls.
It will be another busy fall for the band. In addition to six home football games, the band will perform at Enka’s “Land of the Sky” competition Saturday, Sept. 28, and at WCU’s 19th annual Tournament of Champions, which features 27 high school bands from across the Southeast on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Other members of this year’s band staff include pregame drill designer Bob Buckner; color guard technician Emily Lawson; choreographer Vincent Thomas; purple drumline director Amanda Muse; bass drum technician Taylor Barnes; event assistants Natalie Ballard, Sidney Caldwell and Hudson Moore; drum majors Cailey Alexander, Spencer Childers, Kristen Fletcher and Keely Thomas; and caption teaching assistants Ben Grochowsky, Ben Jones, Silas Josephson, Maylee Speakman and Colin Whitely.