Lake Zurich High School's marching band will continue its tradition of high-profile performances in the coming weeks.
As if playing before crowds at the school's football playoff games hasn't been enough of a highlight, the band will entertain in the McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade in downtown Chicago. The parade will roll down State Street, from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street, from 8 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 28.
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About 425,000 spectators are projected for the parade, as well as viewers on WGN-Channel 9. Lake Zurich will be part of a marching band roster that includes the Chicago police and fire departments, Streamwood High School, Danville High and Oak Park High.
Band director Josh Thompson said while the unit will have a busy break, everyone is excited to be part of the Thanksgiving Day tradition. Lake Zurich's marching band has previously played in the Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade.
"We don't do a ton of parade marching, so these kids are very pumped about being in a major parade, even if it is in our own city," Thompson said. "I always like getting our kids on TV. The whole community gets to take pride in our outstanding students."
But the Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade will seem small compared to what awaits the band in the new year.
The will march before about 2 million or so spectators in central Madrid on the eve of the Epiphany, Jan. 5, for Cabalgata de Reyes, or the Three Kings Parade, which includes animals and extravagant floats.
The parade ends about 9 p.m. with the arrival of the Three Kings on the last float to reach Plaza de la Cibeles, but partying and gift-giving traditionally continue for several hours because the next day is a national holiday in Spain.
"People carry ladders with them down to the parade so they can get up high enough to see when the crowds get deep," Thompson said.
"But it's a very friendly crowd, and I've got the band playing a Christmas carol called 'Mi Burrito Sabanero' that is a favorite among Latin American children. I look forward to their response."
Thompson said it's hoped some type of lighting can be placed on each marching band member, provided money can be found in an already stretched budget that was created from fundraisers. He said few marching bands from the United States have played in the Three Kings Parade.