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Big Apple Ambition

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This Winter Springs cheerleader made her Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade dream come true

“I really liked how they danced – I always wanted to do it,” says Skylar Sabacinski of Winter Springs.
From the time she was a little girl, Skylar would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, live from New York City. The parade’s massive floats and balloons are OK and all, but she really loved watching the cheerleaders.

It’s part of what inspired Skylar, now a senior at Winter Springs High, to be on the varsity cheer and competition cheer team at school. Then, this past fall, Skylar got to be part of the same iconic holiday parade she had excitedly watched for so many years. She auditioned and made it into the Macy’s parade – along with about 600 other cheerleaders from across the United States – as part of the parade’s Spirit of America cheer team.

The fact that her mom, Linda, was born and raised in Long Island just made the success even sweeter. Making it onto the parade team set a family trip into motion for Skylar, Linda, Skylar’s dad Paul, and her brother Nate.

A Piece of History
The parade is kind of a big deal.

Started by the department store in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the second oldest in the U.S. (the other is America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit). The Turkey-Day extravaganza has been televised by NBC since 1952. It brings about 3.5 million people to the Manhattan parade route to watch the musical acts, dancers, and celebrities each year.
Linda wanted the parade participation to be Skylar’s project and something she could own as an individual, unique success.
“I said, ‘Figure it out,’” Linda recalls.

So Skylar researched and applied to be in the parade all by herself. In January 2019, she began investigating online what was required to apply. She sent in an audition video and other information that parade organizers requested. In August, right before school started, Skylar saw a new email in her inbox, took a deep breath, and clicked.

“They said, ‘Congratulations! You’re invited to the Macy’s Day Parade!’ I screamed at the top of my lungs when I got that email,” says Skylar.

In October, she received a video of the routine that the parade team had to learn, her uniform, and a precise itinerary. Skylar practiced the Thanksgiving Day routine while keeping up with her regular high-school cheerleading duties, all her schoolwork, and even a part-time job at the Oviedo Mall.

Big Apple Arrival
Leading up to parade day, Skylar’s time in New York was all about practice, practice, and more practice in her hotel’s grand ballroom. But time was also set aside with chaperones for a Statue of Liberty harbor cruise, the Rockettes Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular show, activities with families, and more.

Skylar found time to make a new friend, too – a girl from another warm-weather state: Texas. Both girls were grateful they were able to layer clothing under their uniforms for parade day, with its 40-something-degree temperatures.
“The wind was blowing!” says Skylar. “It was very different from Winter Springs parades. We couldn’t stop waving or smiling. There were so many people!”

Skylar’s family saw her in the procession from outside their hotel, as well as on TV.

After the parade, Skylar and her family explored New York City some more. They visited Central Park, including Strawberry Fields – the area adjacent to the Dakota Building that pays tribute to late Beatle John Lennon. They saw Central Park’s Gapstow Bridge, as seen in the movie Home Alone, and they enjoyed seeing the Empire State Building lit up at night.

Linda’s highlight of the trip – in addition to seeing Skylar in the parade – was the NBC practice before parade day.

“They performed in front of Macy’s,” says Linda. “It was all blocked off, just for performers or dancers, and we got to stand in front. It was amazing, the amount of work that goes into it. Really eye-opening.”

For her part, Skylar cherished her time in the parade, doing what she loves.

“It was such an amazing experience,” she says.

Even if she was too busy to enjoy turkey or stuffing on Thanksgiving Day, Skylar will always appreciate her New York City Thanksgiving adventure, all while representing Winter Springs.

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