Arenac Eastern Cheerleaders participate in Chicago parade
TWINING — What could be more fun than spending Thanksgiving at a parade in Chicago? How about marching in it?
That is how the Arenac Eastern varsity cheerleading squad recently spent their Thanksgiving, marching in their fifth McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago.
Head coach Laura Ziembo said the experience was special for the girls.
“For some of these girls this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “How many kids from Arenac County can say they got to participate in one of the largest parades in the country?”
The 77th McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade was held Nov. 25, and its route ran through Chicago.
Ziembo said the Arenac Eastern girls participated as part of AmeriCheer, a national cheerleading and dance company.
“We qualified to participate as a team in a number of events at a AmeriCheer camp this summer,” Ziembo said. “We were selected as an All-American Team. “We chose to go to Chicago because it was the closest.”
Other options, Ziembo said, included going to Florida or a college football bowl game.
She said that the parade route lasts about 45 minutes, and the cheerleaders participate with a group of other cheerleaders from around the country. Ziembo added that the Arenac Eastern girls had a routine given to them to them by AmeriCheer to rehearse before getting to the event and practicing with the other participants.
“We practiced for three hours when we got there, and we did the routine throughout the parade route,” she said.
Ziembo said the girls love performing in front of the thousands of people who attended the parade.
“(The girls) just love it. They are a bunch of hams,” she said with a laugh.
Ziembo said that the cheerleaders worked at a number of fundraisers to raise money for the trip. She added that it costs about $465 a person to make the trip to Chicago.
“This is our fifth year going, and as long as we continue to get picked, we will go,” she said. “I am really proud of my girls.”