While the balloons might be in jeopardy of blowing away in today's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the rest will go on as planned, regardless of the weather, and one Lone Grove student will be right in the thick of it.
Theresa Renkiewicz will be marching in the Macy's Great American Marching Band during this morning's parade, playing her saxophone. She auditioned for the band in the spring and received her letter of congratulations in October.
"It was exciting ... well, exciting is an understatement," she says. "I was ecstatic. My whole family was there with me when I opened it, and we were pretty much screaming after we read it."
Renkiewicz was watching last year's parade and paid particular attention to the band, among the hundreds of entries. She wondered what she could do to become a part of it. So she went online and found the auditioning process.
"It's always been my favorite part; I'm really big into music and band. It's what I love doing most," she admits.
The only stipulation was to be in high school and play an instrument. Renkiewicz fit both criteria. She recorded an audition tape with the help of her band director, Doug Hansen. The rest was up to fate and those who picked the band.
"The day the envelope came and we saw that it said 'we'd love to have you in our band,' it just made us very proud. It was really exciting," recalls Pamela Renkiewicz, Theresa's mom.
Theresa left earlier this week to begin rehearsals in the Big Apple, but has been practicing with the music for some time.
However, her trip won't consist solely of rehearsing.
"I'm looking forward to some sightseeing, going to a show on Broadway, things like that," she says. "But I'm most excited for the band.
"I'm used to performing in front of people — it doesn't make me that nervous — and it excites me that there will be so many people watching the band there, plus the millions on TV."
Initially, her parents were going to be among those millions watching on TV, but some quick budgeting allowed them to make the trip to see Theresa live at the parade.
"We won't be there with the band, but we'll be there for two days and get to see her in the parade," Pamela says. "We assumed we wouldn't be going — it's very expensive. But a couple of weeks ago, my sister's husband told us he would like to provide the air travel for us. So they bought our plane tickets and we'll be there to see her."
Theresa's honor wasn't completely free. While some of the costs, lodging and food were covered, she still had to get the money to travel to New York and pay for many of the ammenities that come with such a trip. But through donations and fundraising, she managed to put it all together.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's not a free honor, it's one we have to foot the bill for," Pamela explains. "But the community has been great about helping us out."
While Theresa says she's excited for the experience, Pamela confesses seeing Theresa participate in something so big is more than she could have ever expected. Not to mention, she's getting to go to New York City, too, to see her.
"It's something I've wanted to do all my life, and I never dreamt I'd get to go, let alone get to see my child march in the parade. It's just so exciting and we're so proud of her."
The parade will begin at approximately 8 a.m. CST on various national networks. Theresa will be playing first part alto saxophone.