Update: Rickards Raiders Invited To McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade

May 13, 2014

The Rickards Raiders' Sousaphone
Credit Nick Evans

Update 5/15/2015 3:10 pm:

On Tuesday WFSU reported the Rickards High School Marching Band had been invited to the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  That was incorrect, but Band Leader Zachery Nealy says the Rickards Raiders have still been invited to a prestigious parade. 

“The crosshairs got mixed up,” Nealy says, “And so, no, it’s not the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as I’ve been advised to say, it’s not the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  It is the McDonalds Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

The band is currently raising funds to participate in the Chicago parade in 2015.  Band leader Zachery Nealy says the school did not purposely mislead anyone.

“We are people of high character and integrity, and I will say it was just an oversight, we’ll use that word, just an oversight,” Nealy says.

Rickards actually had to decline an invitation to this year’s parade in Chicago for lack of funds.  But in a letter, parade organizers Worldstride Heritage Performance says the Rickards Raiders continue to have an open invitation to any of the events they produce.  Both WFSU and WCTV have reported the band was raising money to travel to New York.  And this week State Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the public to join her in supporting the band’s fundraising efforts.

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Update 5/14/2014 3:45 pm: In an e-mail to WFSU, Macy's has denied Rickards High School will be featured in the 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The original story (see below) aired Tuesday, May 13. We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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State Attorney General Pam Bondi took a moment during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting to recognize Tallahassee’s Rickards High School marching band.  The band is raising money for uniforms and instruments and Bondi is urging others to help.

They’ve been invited to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2015.  Even though that sounds like it’s a long way off the students are already preparing.  Band leader Zachery Nealy says it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will be a life-changing event for a lot of kids and parents, and people in this community to have somebody from Tallahassee – especially Rickards High School,” Nealy says.

But the band needs money. Students have raised about $800 each to cover travel, but their uniforms and some of the instruments are in a pretty sorry state.  A couple of the band’s Sousaphones – that’s the big brass tuba you wear around your shoulders – are crumpled all over with small welded patches and duct tape covering up leaks. 

Nealy says they’ve raised $22,000 already, and they’re hoping to raise $20,000 more.