The Biggest Stage

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Former MHS students, current WCU band members to perform at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York

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Mitchell High graduates and current Western Carolina University sophomores Kailey Ratcliff (left) and Casey Mickleborough will perform with the Western Carolina Pride of the Mountains Marching Band in New York Thursday, Nov. 28, in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Ratcliff and Mickleborough, who have been close friends for years, both said they are looking forward to their time in the national spotlight. (Submitted)

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LEDGER – The 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will have a bit of Mitchell County flavor thanks to Casey Mickleborough and Kailey Ratcliff. 

Mickleborough and Ratcliff graduated from Mitchell High School in 2018 and are now sophomores at Western Carolina. They both play clarinet in the Western Carolina University Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, which will travel to New York to perform Thursday, Nov. 28, as part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

Mickleborough and Ratcliff, who have a deep friendship dating back to their days in Mitchell County public schools, both said they are excited to spend time together in New York City. The two have been friends since third grade and have been in band together since sixth grade. 

“I think it’s really cool,” Mickleborough said. “To come here to Western and in our second year be doing this really big thing together is kind of amazing.” 

The band left for New York Saturday, Nov. 23, and will return Friday, Nov. 29. It will perform a condensed excerpt from one of their usual routines. The segment will be a mix of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” 

WCU Band Director David Starnes will lead more than 500 students in the performance. 

Ratcliff, who plays bass clarinet, said getting to perform in a parade she has watched for years is a unique opportunity. 

“It’s exciting,” she said. “When I was younger, I watched the parade with my parents and family, so getting to actually play in it is pretty exciting.”

Outside of performing, the band will spend time sightseeing around New York, seeing Broadway shows and bonding.

Ratcliff said she is excited for the chance to get to know some of her peers on a deeper level. 

“Everyone in the marching band is like a family,” Ratcliff said. “It’s always fun to go on trips and stuff because you get to know each other more.”

Ratcliff and Mickleborough admitted they are a little nervous about performing on such a large stage, adding the band has been rehearsing for its New York appearance for months.

The parade is set to begin at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and will be broadcast live on NBC. 

Ratcliff and Mickleborough said they hope their friends and family from Mitchell County are watching and enjoy the show. 

“I really appreciated being at Mitchell High and my band director and all the people who encouraged me to do music,” Mickleborough said. “I don’t think I’ll have time to really think about the nerves.”