Local band director to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
This week, Western Wayne's Band Director Elaine Ort gets to be a band kid again.
“This organization is really something special," she said. "It's really a cool experience.”
Ort is a member of the Saluting America’s Band Directors project. She will perform among 400 of her colleagues from across the country and locally this week in New York City during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday.
This is Ort’s 10th year teaching at Western Wayne. She's the district's director of instrumental activities. Ort saw an ad on Facebook looking for band directors for the Saluting America's Band Directors project. The organization brings together band directors and music educators from across the country.
"I threw my name in the ring, not expecting to hear anything back because there are thousands and thousands of directors who I figured would be applying," she said.
She plays the mellophone — the brass instrument is a marching French horn — and was picked to join.
Ort got to New York City on Sunday. On Monday, the directors laid a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan. They played the "Star Spangled Banner" and "Amazing Grace."
"And an arrangement of 'Taps' for full band which is really neat to hear," she said.
During the 2.5 mile-long parade, the directors will play different arrangements. The first is a march trio medley, which includes "The Star Spangled Banner" and "76 Trombones." When they hit Herald Square, the band will play a Big Apple medley.
"I won't share those songs yet, because I want it to be a surprise," she said.
The directors, which includes music educators from the Blue Ridge School District and Schuylkill County, practiced on their own before meeting up in New York City. Leading up to the parade, they’re spending three hours a day playing together. During the march, Ort will wear navy blue pants and a bright Macy’s red blazer. The department store wanted them to look like band directors.
"We're gonna look very different than every other band," she said.
Ort also gave her students an optional assignment.
"I did offer extra credit for any kid who can find me in the parade and take a picture," she said.
Ort, a New England native, still remembers opening her instrument case for the first time in fifth grade. In middle school, she found her home in the band room. She went to college at Marywood University as a performance major and ended up with a teaching degree.
"Now I get to take that love and show the next generation what it's like to do," she said.
Ort gets a lot out of the band directors organization. She trades stories and techniques with her fellow band directors. They also keep in touch throughout the year.
"Just to be able to have all of that experience in one place at one time … and then to be able to share that here at Western Wayne is really, really invaluable," she said.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off around 8:30 a.m. It will be broadcast on NBC and Peacock.