Band to Appear in Iconic Holiday Tradition with Bama Blitz Support

  • April 7th, 2021
A college student holding the tuba.
Spencer Charleson at a big game a few seasons ago.

UA junior Spencer Charleson has had the unique opportunity to perform at venues across the U.S., from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to Levi Stadium in California. But none can quite compare to where he’ll have the honor of performing this November.

“To march in New York City will be the peak of my marching band career,” said the civil engineering major and Basking Ridge, New Jersey native, who plays the tuba in UA’s Million Dollar Band. “Since I grew up near there, it will be like my marching career come full circle. I am blown away by the opportunity to perform with the Million Dollar Band for an audience of millions of people.”

Charleson and his MDB bandmates are set to perform in the 2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this fall. They were selected to appear in the 2020 parade, but their invitation was deferred to the 2021 parade when last year’s event was restricted due to the pandemic, and bands did not participate.

“When those who support this Bama Blitz project watch the parade on television this Thanksgiving, they will know that their support helped make this extraordinary experience possible for our students.”

“While everyone involved was disappointed, we certainly understood the reason for the cancelation,” said Dr. Ken Ozzello, UA professor of music and director of bands. “But plans are currently underway for the Million Dollar Band to make the trip in November of 2021. Being a part of an event that is a holiday tradition to so many people, including members of the MDB, will be very special. It will be a memory they can cherish and share with their friends and families the rest of their lives.”

To make it possible for Charleson and his bandmates to take part in the parade, the College of Arts and Sciences is asking for the public’s help in raising funds that would alleviate costs for the band’s 400 members to travel to, and participate in, the event.

Trumpet players in the Million Dollar Band play during a halftime performance
The Million Dollar Band will perform at the 2021 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Contributors may give directly to this passion project through Bama Blitz, UA’s online fundraising event for alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, by visiting Bama Blitz will begin at noon Monday, April 12, and end at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, April 15.

“When those who support this Bama Blitz project watch the parade on television this Thanksgiving, they will know that their support helped make this extraordinary experience possible for our students,” said Ozzello. “All Bama fans will be excited to hear ‘Yea Alabama’ on the streets of Manhattan.”

As for Charleson, who grew up watching the parade to kick off Thanksgiving each year, he is certainly among the enthused.

“November can’t come soon enough,” he said.

The costs associated with this trip are high, and while a large portion of the cost will be covered by the University, some will be passed to individual band members. Donations to this Bama Blitz passion project will lessen their costs.

“The band’s hard work and dedication have made this opportunity possible,” said Ozzello. “We don’t want any of them to miss this chance to participate in an American tradition because the cost is too prohibitive.”

To help support this extraordinary tip, donors can make a gift online at the Bama Blitz website.

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.