Excitement proved to be the fuel the members of North Carolina A&T State University’s Blue & Gold Marching Machine needed to march the 2.3-mile route of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

“There was no sleep,” head drum major Do’trell Allen said.

Traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike shattered the Wednesday schedule that would have permitted the band to sleep prior to the parade.

“We got to the hotel around 9 and then we got something to eat and went back to the hotel for about an hour and 45 minutes,” he said.

The band took the short break then headed to a dress rehearsal in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. Shortly after, they got dressed and marched the entire parade.

“They came, they saw, they conquered and by all accounts left a lasting impression on the city,” N.C. A&T Board of Trustees chairman Willie A. Deese said in a letter. 

“They were a vision of marching precision and aural delight and they looked good doing it.”

At the end of the parade, the band performed a one-minute, 15-second routine on the Macy’s star that included a medley of tunes by The O’Jays, Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.

“A lot of it was adrenaline,” Allen said. “As we were marching up to the star, there were some people who were actually crying. I asked Dr. Ruff if he was ready, he said, ‘The question is are y’all ready’.”

Band operations director Robert Moore said the entire weekend still seems unreal.

“Words can’t describe it,” he said. “We made a lot of kids’ dreams come true.”

While the band did get exposed to a lot of educational opportunities – such as the Museum of Natural History and a narrated city tour – the best part of it was seeing the amount of support they had in the city, Moore said.

“The New York Alumni Chapter fed them dinner on Wednesday night and there were so many people on the route cheering and some of them had signs. It was great,” he said.

Alumna Kitara Garner and a group of friends made plans a week before the parade to be in a great spot. They also contacted the New York Alumni Chapter to connect with other Aggies for the parade.

“I actually shed a tear when I saw them walking past us – it was such a once in a life time moment,” she said.

“I think we kind of annoyed the people next to us with our cheering but it was definitely a proud moment to be an Aggie.”

Garner, a 2003 graduate, lives in New Jersey but said the Aggie supporters next to her group of friends made the trek from Charlotte to see the Blue & Gold Marching Machine.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to be there but were not able to make it. Those of us there definitely showed our love and kept the band’s spirits up. They definitely felt the Aggie Love,” she said.