BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — It was a show for the ages: the Radio City Rockettes, giant balloons and Santa.
Blue Springs High School band members got the best seat in the house — because they were also part of the show. It was the band's third year participating in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which band director Tim Allshouse said is a rarity.
The band returned from the week-long trip Saturday, and students are now reflecting on the experience and the life lessons it brought.
Blue Springs junior Graham Deterding said he couldn't believe it when the band found out they were selected for the parade.
"I was just mind-blown, like I can't believe we get to do that, it's so cool," Deterding said.
More than 200 students packed their bags and marched the avenues of the Big Apple.
Blue Springs senior Emma Day said she'll never forget the thousands of people lining the streets and the skies.
"You just look up at these skyscrapers that you can't even see the top of, and they are filled with people," Day said.
The trip was a busy one. Students got to see "Wicked" on Broadway, the Rockettes and the 9/11 Memorial.
Allshouse said the trip was a real chance to teach his students some life skills.
"The actual event is amazing, preparing for what it's really like to be in a professional environment like that," Allshouse said.
Students also got a taste of independence in the city. They got to explore a few blocks at a time without being chaperoned.
Blue Springs senior Luke David said it was the first school trip he's been on that allowed students to go off on their own.
"You're just free to walk around with friends and you just are really on your own. It teaches you how to live an adult life instead of a supervised life," David said.
The day of the parade is a long and exhausting one. The band had a 2 a.m. wake-up call for their quick, 10-minute dress rehearsal, and then it was showtime.
"In the moment, it's all up to them to do the job, and they knocked it out of the park," Allshouse said.
He said it's heartwarming to be a part of an experience he knows the students will never forget.
"I think those kids can look back and say, 'man if I can do that, I can do anything else,'" Allshouse said.