PORTSMOUTH — If you look closely enough, you may see a couple of familiar faces in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City Thursday morning.
The University of Massachusetts Marching Band, which includes Hannah Lafleur and Ryan Blythe from Portsmouth, was one of only two college bands selected to appear in the morning parade. While the UMass band has marched in three presidential inaugural parades, this year marks its first appearance in Macy’s parade, which is broadcast all over the world.
Ms. Lafleur, who plays five instruments and will be marching Thursday with an alto saxophone along with Mr. Blythe, is excited for the opportunity. As a member of the PHS Marching Band, she appeared in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C., and the night parade at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
But Macy’s is the granddaddy of all parades.
“This is by far the biggest one,” said Ms. Lafleur, who graduated from PHS in 2012. “I’ll probably have butterflies. I’ve never marched in front of that many people.”
Mr. Blythe graduated from PHS last spring, so he got to appear with the marching band in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade in January.
“They’re two completely different parades, but they’re equal in that they really matter to a lot of people,” he said, adding that the Macy’s parade should have a larger audience. “We’ve been told we’re performing for a minimum of a million people on the streets, and that doesn’t include TV. It’s going to be awesome.”
The most difficult thing the musicians will have to deal with Thursday is the grueling schedule, which isn’t exactly friendly to college students.
“Wake-up is 2 o’clock on Thursday morning,” said Ms. Lafleur. And no, she said, the band will not be partying the night before.
Added Mr. Blythe, “Ultimately, we’ll be too excited to sleep anyway.”
The band will rehearse at 4 a.m. for the NBC cameras in front of the Macy’s store, then line up at 7:45 a.m. to begin the 2.5-mile parade. While marching through the streets of Manhattan, the band will play a repertoire consisting of the school’s fight song, “Roll Down the Field,” “God Bless America,” and a Boston favorite: “Sweet Caroline,” in honor of the Red Sox winning the World Series this year.
If you’d like to get a glimpse of the band, make sure you’re tuned in around 11:24 a.m., when the band will move and groove across the Macy’s Star at Herald Square. (If you’re looking straight ahead at the band, the two Portsmouth residents will be on the right side.)
Ms. Lafleur is also a member of the 215th U.S. Army National Guard Band out of Fall River. She’s a flute major who wants to teach music eventually.
Mr. Blythe hasn’t yet declared his major, but is considering music composition.
“I love music. It’s my life,” he said.