Kamiak student performs in Macy’s parade
One of Mukilteo’s own represented Washington state in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Aaron Coe, a junior at Kamiak High School, marched in the Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 22 as a member of the Macy’s Great American Marching Band.
Although the Kamiak show band has marched in the parade, Aaron, who plays euphonium or baritone, is the first Kamiak student to audition and become a member of the official Macy’s band.
“It means a lot to me,” Aaron said. “I’m honored to be a part of a national ensemble, and my family is proud, which is really cool for me.”
He performed in Herald Square in New York City with more than 225 other top musicians from high schools across the nation, with students in the band representing every state. He and one other student represented Washington state.
Aaron was invited to audition for the band after he won second place in the state Solo and Ensemble Contest for his euphonium solo last spring.
The band performed “(Up A) Lazy River” in front of more than 3.5 million spectators on the streets – about 10 people deep – and 50 million others nationwide watching live on TV. Aaron was in the first row and as a result got a lot of TV time.
“The parade is a big deal for New York, but because of Hurricane Sandy, it was a much larger deal,” Aaron said. “It’s rough over there, people are having a hard time, but the parade brought them back hope.”
Aaron rehearsed 4-5 hours a day for three days with the other students at their hotel and the Teaneck Armory in New Jersey to get their performance just right. He had already memorized the music.
On Thanksgiving Day, the band had its last rehearsal at 3:40 a.m. to check that the students were “TV ready.” Aaron had slept just three hours the night before.
He had just one word to describe their performance in Herald Square in front of all the lights and TV cameras – intense.
“It was really, really intense, but it was also a lot of fun because all the kids were obviously the best at what they were doing,” he said. “Everyone was really excited. It was a great time. I was really happy to be there.”
Several familiar faces were on the streets of New York to see him march in the parade, including Aaron’s mom, Janet, dad, Rob, brother, Jesse, 30, and sister-in-law, Teresa. They also watched a sneak peak of their performance at the armory.
Janet Coe said that at 5:45 a.m., they were already in the second row of spectators on the parade route.
Family and friends were watching Aaron from back home, too, posting photos and comments on Facebook whenever they spotted him with his euphonium.
“It was such a joy for us all, because it’s a celebration the whole nation participates in, and to be an active part of that was just so, so special,” Janet Coe said. “It felt like the whole community was there with us because they actually were, watching on television, sharing with the excitement.”
Aaron said he was proud to represent Washington, Mukilteo and Kamiak in the band. He met the other student from Washington – though they didn’t get to talk much.
“We only really got to shake hands and say, ‘Oh you’re from Washington, too,” Aaron said.
It’s a Thanksgiving tradition for the Coe family to watch the Macy’s parade on TV every year. They often talked of going to New York to see it, never imagining that Aaron would march in the parade.
“No matter where we are, we always turn the parade on while I’m cooking turkey or whatever, and so we’ve always said, wouldn’t it be fun to go sometime?”
“We’ve always wondered, who are those kids in that band and how did they get there?” she added. “So now we know.”
Aaron, who also plays trumpet, is in the Kamiak chamber winds, symphonic band and pit orchestra, is first trumpet in the Everett Youth Symphony, plays in the Mukilteo Presbyterian Church brass choir and orchestra, and is a drum major for the Kamiak show band.
He also started a brass quintet at Kamiak that last year placed seventh at state.
Marching band is practically in Aaron’s blood: His grandma and grandpa played saxophone and tuba in their high school marching band, his mom played saxophone, and his dad and brother both played trumpet in marching band.
“It was a very proud moment to see him in the parade and to see him rehearse,” said Rob Coe. “It was a proud day for the family, that’s for sure.”