November 24, 2004
NEW YORK - They’re not in Gilbert anymore. Under cloud-covered skies, the Highland High School marching band left a New Jersey hotel Tuesday morning and boarded four New York City-bound buses.
"It just smells different here," Logan Leavitt said as he stepped off the bus at Pier 17 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Leavitt and 170 other students in the Highland band are in New York this week to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The band is one of 10 from across the nation selected for Thursday’s event. As they explored the city Tuesday, students said the trip is expanding their minds.
"I’m culture shocked," said Michael Smith, 17, "because where we come from, everyone is basically white. But here, it’s really a melting pot of all the races."
The students toured several famous sites, including Grand Central Station, Central Park and Grant’s Tomb.
Sophomore Samantha Carroll said Grant’s Tomb was her favorite.
"He had to raise money so he could be buried by his wife because that was his dying wish and he was broke," she said.
Tuesday marked Leavitt’s second trip to New York in less than two months.
He said he has finally mastered the art of jaywalking.
He didn’t have time to chat, though, because he was on the hunt for his third hot dog of the day from his new favorite vendor on Pier 17.
The students had an opportunity to explore the pier by foot and on their own — a welcome relief for many who complained it was nearly impossible to see the city from the window of a bus.
Some, like senior Karissa Manwaring, shopped in familiar stores like the Gap and JCrew.
She looked exhausted as she sat in a vibrating massage chair at the Sharper Image.
Other students posed for pictures with New York’s finest.
Chris Wo l ford, 16, took it a step further by getting a police officer to act as if he were handcuffing the junior.
After spending about two hours exploring the Lower East Side, the band
boarded buses again — this time for Times Square.
Ryan Auhl’s jaw dropped as he took in the blinding lights of Broadway.
"This is awesome," he said before snapping a picture and running to catch his classmates.
Live from New York
What: Gilbert’s Highland High School band is one of 10 bands — the only band from Arizona — that will perform in the 78th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
To watch: Tune in to KPNX-TV (Channel 12) at 7 a.m. Thursday. Highland will be the fifth band to march.