Spring Grove graduate Jacquelyn Maurer, front row, fourth from the left, will march with the James Madison University marching band in the Macy’s
Spring Grove graduate Jacquelyn Maurer, front row, fourth from the left, will march with the James Madison University marching band in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Jacquelyn Maurer has adjusted to playing the cymbals in front of 20,000 people on the weekends.

As a member of the James Madison University marching band, the Spring Grove graduate moved from playing in a band of about 40 members to one that has 485 performers -- 30 of whom are in the drumline with her.

"It's definitely a bigger family," Maurer said.

Maurer will be spending Thanksgiving with her band family when she and the Marching Royal Dukes take their performance up a notch by performing in front of millions of people as they lead the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday in New York City.

Maurer, a freshman studying chemistry at JMU, said the band practices Monday through Friday for an hour and a half each night. Now that the football games have ended, the time has been dedicated to parade preparation.

Endurance required: Maurer said she isn't nervous for the performance, but is a little anxious about the endurance she and her bandmates will need for the parade: For the drumline, it is an hour of simultaneous marching and playing. Band performances are typically 15 to 20 minutes, she said.

Maurer said she does push-ups and sit-ups and other exercises to warm up, but she expects her calves to be burning from the marching and her arms and shoulders to be sore from clanging the cymbals during the march.


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"It's definitely more of a sport than people give it credit for," Maurer said.

Maurer traveled with the band to New York on Tuesday, and will try to sleep around a 3 a.m. dress rehearsal in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.

The band will play a loop of the JMU fight song, "Seventy-Six Trombones" and the cadence for a majority of the parade. In front of Macy's, where the performers are judged, the band has prepared a routine to the song "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music."

Maurer said she is most excited to see between 2 million and 3 million spectators crammed into the New York City streets and to see the balloons being inflated on the morning of the parade.

"I never thought I would get to do something like that," Maurer said.

-- Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.