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Buford High student to march in Macys parade
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Buford High School color guard captain Christana Landress performs Friday with fellow band members before a home football game. The senior will march Thursday morning in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a member of the Great American Marching Band. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Buford High School senior Christana Landress has her marching orders. Landress was chosen to be in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Every year, thousands of high school students apply for a position in the Great American Marching Band, and only 185 musicians and 40 flag bearers and dancers are accepted.

“I’ve always watched the parade on TV, and I wanted to participate,” she said. “We found out that there were auditions coming, so I sent in an application.

“It’s intimidating, because I know that millions of people are watching on TV as well as at the parade.”

Landress is a member of the color guard, which performs with flags alongside the marching band. She first picked up a flag in the seventh grade and joined the color guard a year later, though she has been spinning batons since she was 5 years old.

Buford High School band director Matt Young said the school has never had a student participate in the Great American Marching Band before, and to have one now is an honor.

“Most of the students that usually get picked are from larger schools with more recognition,” he said. “It’s a feat in itself for Christana to be picked from a smaller system like ours.

“That’s a tribute to her and her accomplishments.”

This isn’t the only honor Landress has received this year for her work on the flag corps. She also was chosen to participate in the All-American Marching Band during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Like the bowl, which pits the top 90 high school football players in the country against each other in an East vs. West matchup, the marching band is made up of the top band students from across the nation.

The Great American Marching Band began in 2006, and has since become a fixture in the annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

It comprises students from all 50 states, who, under the direction of Auburn University’s Richard Good and the University of Illinois’ Barry Houser, will march with some of the most prestigious marching bands in the country.

Landress left Saturday for New York, where she will have rehearsed with the band for three days before the parade on Thanksgiving. In addition, members of the Great American Marching Band will see the Broadway musical “Matilda,” based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, and visit ground zero.

After graduation, Landress plans to attend Mississippi State University where she will study broadcast meteorology, and she hopes to be part of its Famous Maroon Band as a majorette.

While Landress doesn’t know where in the parade lineup she will be, viewers can tune in and try to spot her somewhere between Snoopy and Santa.

The 87th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will begin in New York City at 9 a.m. Thursday.

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