Meteorologists don’t know it yet, but a hurricane is about to hit Atlanta.
Cartersville High School’s Purple Hurricane Marching Band will sweep down Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta Saturday as part of the 35th annual Children’s Christmas Parade to benefit the Friends Funding Goals for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The 90-minute parade, broadcast live on WSB-TV, will begin rain or shine at 10:30 a.m.
Floats, larger-than-life helium-filled balloons and marching bands, along with a television audience of more than 500,000 viewers and thousands of spectators lining the streets, will eagerly welcome Santa’s arrival, signaling the official beginning of the holiday season in Atlanta.
The 115-member Purple Hurricane band will perform a medley of traditional holiday tunes in what Director Bob Steelnack said was its first appearance in the popular parade, “at least in recent years.”
“I am excited for the kids,” he said. “This is a nice opportunity for the band to be seen on a regional level, with parents being able to see their kids on TV as well. Proud to be included in a great lineup of bands at this year’s parade. I think the students will enjoy marching down Peachtree Street in front of thousands during the holiday season, and performances such as this may lead to more opportunities down the road.”
Led by senior drum majors Chandler Mann and Odera Anokwalu, the Purple Hurricanes are one of 10 high school bands — eight from Georgia and two from out of state — that will wind its way along Peachtree from 16th to Fifth streets.
“We are always looking for quality band programs to be represented at the parade, and Cartersville has shown themselves over the years to be a competitive and well-received band in the community,” said Abby Wexler, CHOA’s senior program coordinator. “We had more than 30 bands apply to be in the parade this year. It is a very competitive application as the Children’s Christmas Parade is the largest [Christmas] parade in the Southeast. We were fortunate to be able to offer Cartersville High School Band a position this year. We are excited to have them join us.”
Steelnack said he applied for a spot in the parade last winter and was notified over the summer that the band had made the cut.
“Selection is by application, highlighting the band’s recent accomplishments and activities, and the process began after last year’s parade was complete,” he said.
The musicians and color guard have had to squeeze in parade rehearsals with their rehearsals for the football playoffs, Steelnack said.
“Our football team is just incredible, continuing on to the third round and perhaps beyond, so the marching band is going late into the season again this year, and we will incorporate parade rehearsal segments into our Thursday afternoon playoffs rehearsal schedule,” he said.
Spectators begin arriving for the parade as early as 7 a.m., and organizers recommend arriving no later than 8:30 a.m. to get a good seat, according to the CHOA website.
However, bleacher seats can be purchased through Monday for the best view of the parade.
For more information or to buy bleacher seats, visit choa.org/parade.