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WHS band going to Windy City

CHICAGO -- It seems as if the Worthington High School Marching Band has found another way to put Worthington on the map. And, like the Great Gobbler Gallop, it involves a turkey.

The band is in Chicago this week, one of 24 marching bands performing in the 75th Annual McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade -- and the only band from Minnesota.

"When I took over the band program three years ago, one of the long-term goals was to get the band to some sort of nationally- ranked parade competition. And after three years time we saw that this was the moment that Worthington was ready for such an honor," said director Jon Loy.

The application process began in February and the band was accepted in September -- with what Loy believes is a special placement in the parade.

"We lobbied very hard to get to be the closing band, which is not really the norm. Usually they take a local school to do that and to usher in Santa. But after they saw our pictures and video footage they bought into the idea that maybe this is going to be the whole package," he said, referring to their parade program's Christmas theme. "We have dancing packages, we have snowflake flags that actually snow on the band at the end of the parade," he continued.

The nearly 100 band members participated in three fundraisers throughout the year, and Loy said many were able to fund their whole trip with the money raised.

Their visit won't be all work and no play, either. Students will eat dinner their first night at the Rock N' Roll McDonalds before touring Chicago favorites like the John Hancock Observatory, seeing Broadway show "Wicked" and "The Blue Man Group" and having a dinner and dance at their hotel with other participating bands.

"That's what makes this parade very personal. It's not just a matter of our band against this band, because it isn't a competition. It's more of a celebration of all the bands' seasons," said Loy.

Senior Adam Vosburgh, who plays snare drum on the percussion line, said he's looking forward to the performance and the group's visit to Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

"(I'm looking forward) to being known nationally from our TV performance," he said. "I think we're nervous being on a national stage, but we have enough experience that we should be able to take it on."

"The last time that the band took a trip of this magnitude was 14 years ago, so this is quite new to all of the families as well as the kids and I think the community is just abuzz as to the ambassadorship that the band is taking on right now," Loy said. "I think the opportunity to shine and be in the national spotlight is well-deserved."

The McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade will be broadcast from 8 to 11 a.m. central time Thursday on WGN. Visit to view the complete interview with WHS Marching Band Director Jon Loy.