As a little girl, Christiana Moyle watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from her father’s shoulders.
This year, the 15-year-old’s seat will be closer than it’s ever been. She’ll be sitting on the 85th annual parade’s ZhuZhu Pets float and performing in a dance number in Herald Square for NBC cameras.
“We used to live in the city, and then we moved out here last year,” Christiana said during an interview at her house in Westhampton Beach last week. “So we’d always go to the parade. I never thought I’d actually be in it. Ever. I always wondered how people got in.”
Now she knows. Christiana, along with dozens of local performers ages 12 to 16, auditioned at the Westhampton Performing Arts Center in August for one of 120 spots to appear on the inaugural ZhuZhu Pets Zhu-niverse float to perform the original
number, “There’s No Place Like Here,” featured in the animated movie, “Quest For Zhu.”
Following five weeks of national auditions, Camp Broadway—the theater arts education company running the audition and directing the parade performance—picked 132 child performers from more than 1,000 who tried out, among them Christiana, 15-year-old Rose Davis, 13-year-old Tyler Hill of Westhampton Beach and 15-year-old Danielle Allen of Riverhead. The company also puts on Camp Broadway classes at the PAC.
“Camp Broadway seems to be drawing more and more talented kids,” Artistic Director Tony Parise said in a statement. “The auditions this year were a pleasure because of that, but made it much more difficult to pick only 132 performers.”
Rehearsals begin in Manhattan on Saturday, November 19, and continue straight through Wednesday, November 23. Christiana said she expects five- to 10-hour days—nothing she and Tyler aren’t used to from their summers during Camp Broadway sessions at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, they said.
The five-day experience will also include Broadway workshops, music classes and dance rehearsals to prepare for the nationally broadcast performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which attracts more than 50 million viewers annually, according to a press release. With more than 8,000 participants in tow, the parade marches down a 2-mile route in Manhattan, passing by more than 3 million spectators.
While there was no charge to audition, the participation fee for each performer is $895, which includes food, a costume and other surprises, according to the release. Children have the option of staying in discounted accommodations at the nearest Sheraton or travelling back and forth every day for rehearsal, according to Molly Hill, Tyler’s mother.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it at first because it’s a lot of money, but I auditioned to see if I could get in,” Christiana said.
Rose, one of Christiana’s best friends, called just a couple weeks after the audition with great news, Christiana said.
“She said she got in, and then asked if I did,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘No ...’ But then we got a call and my mom texted me when I was at school. I was so excited.”
While Christiana’s nerves aren’t getting the best of her just yet, Tyler said he has some butterflies that haven’t quelled since learning that he was picked.
“My parents knew before they told me,” he said during an interview with his parents at their home. “We went out to dinner to the Cheesecake Factory and I didn’t expect it. My mom pulled out her phone and asked me to read an email off of it. I did and got all excited, and then nervous a little bit. It said I was going to be in the parade.”
His parents, Molly and Keith, beamed.
“Very exciting, very proud,” they said almost simultaneously. “It’s amazing,” Ms. Hill continued. “I’ve never been to the Macy’s Day Parade. I never thought that my son would be in it during our first time there!”
Christiana’s mother, Carol Fitton, was just as surprised as Tyler’s parents.
“I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “That’s why we decided to go for it. It will be different to go this year, after all these years, to know someone in the parade. I don’t think we ever have.”
So far, Christiana has been keeping the news under wraps, she said, telling only her close friends.
“Nobody really has any idea that I got in,” she said. “They’ll probably be pretty surprised if they see me on TV.”
To catch the performance by Christiana Moyle, Rose Davis, Tyler Hill and Danielle Allen on the ZhuZhu Pet float, tune in to the “85th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on Thursday, November 24, beginning at 9 a.m. on NBC. For more information, call (212) 494-4495 or visit macys.com/parade.
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