Hampton University's Marching Force will perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. 

It marks the first appearance for the school’s marching band at the historic event in New York City. 

The Marching Force was originally scheduled to perform in 2020, but the parade was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Thomas Jones, Director of Bands for Hampton University, said it was a challenge to prepare students who were learning virtually.

“It’s already hard enough to teach music in person,” he said. “This is really uncharted territory.”

This will be Jones’ third time leading a band at the parade, so he understands just how big this moment is for his students.

“What I tell them is, ‘It’s a minute and fifteen seconds for the rest of your lives,’” he said. “Because that’s really all the time you’re allotted for the actual performance you see on TV”

Joshua White is a junior at Hampton University and a trombonist in the Marching Force. 

Even though this is his first time performing at the parade - and being in New York City - he isn’t feeling nervous.

“Everyone works as one unit, and we always encourage each other,” White said. 

He said the marching band’s trip to Italy in 2019 for the Rome New Year’s Day Parade also helped him prepare. 

Jones said they are excited to represent Virginia on the national stage.

“When we go out of town, when we go overseas, we carry Virginia on our backs,” he said.

The parade kicks off at 9 a.m., and the Marching Force will be featured on TV around 10 a.m.