During the Thanksgiving holiday, most enjoyed gathering around a table with family to enjoy a traditional feast along with good conversation and laughs.
But for Sulphur senior cheerleader Payton Massey, she got to spend her Thanksgiving with 500 of her cheeriest friends, and a worldwide television audience.
Massey was among a select few chosen from across the United States to perform at the 2017 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Times Square this year, as part of a special segment.
But this journey to the heart of New York City began months ago in Norman during cheer camp.
Massey was given the title of All-Star cheer, making her eligible to be selected for the honor of performing on the big stage.
Following a few more grueling tryouts and hours of practice and hard work, Massey was given the green light to travel to the Big Apple, where she joined fellow cheerleaders from across the United States.
However, while the trip was a once in a lifetime experience for the Sulphur senior, there was more than enough practice and preparation before getting to enjoy the bright lights of Time Square.
“We had two main choreographers who work on this routine virtually the entire year,” Massey said. “We had four six-hour practices, three four-hour practices, and on the day of the actual parade, we were practicing at 4:30 in the morning.”
“With as many people as we had performing, it’s a ton of work getting ready,” Massey added. “It’s not just work for the cheerleaders, but the choreographers as well.”
Massey also admitted she had never been to New York City before the parade, but said she had the time of her life.
“It was a very new experience for me,” she said. “New York is obviously very different from Oklahoma. It was definitely a culture shock for me. The people were different, the food was different as well but delicious. I felt small while I was there, but it was a good feeling.”
Among the cheerleaders Massey got to encounter included participants from Alaska and Minnesota, who Massey said were in her small group during her time in New York.
“Payton is a great role model,” Sulphur cheer coach Destiny Baker said. “She works very hard and is very respectful to everyone. I was so proud as her coach to see her represent our cheer program and the community of Sulphur at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.”
And what has the experience been like since returning to Oklahoma?
“Coming home, everyone’s just been so excited for me,” Massey said. “I’ve been excited as well just thinking about the fact I was on national television. It was such an honor to perform and a great experience for me.”
“My mom was able to watch me on television since I was on the front row,” Massey added. “My kids that I teach in Sunday School were like ‘Miss Payton we saw you on TV and we paused it.’ I’ve had so many people come up to me and tell me they saw me. It’s just been super great for me.”