Maryland is adding some flash to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. Morgan State University’s marching band, known as “The Magnificent Marching Machine,” is leading the annual parade in New York City.
Morgan State, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is one of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, and its marching band is known for their high-stepping, energetic style, as well as their musicianship.
Band director Melvin Miles said appearing in the nationally-watched parade calls for more than just great marching.
“While it is a great parade, it is also a television show,” he said, and his band will be in the spotlight at the end of the two-mile route. It’s there that the band will stop on the Macy’s star to perform a specially selected number.
Morgan State senior Justin Fabiyi-King is the marching band’s drum major. He’s the one you’ll see putting the Magnificent Marching Machine into high gear.
Fabiyi-King, who is from Hyattsville, Maryland, said he’s looking forward to the parade, and will work to keep band members focused.
“My role is to help everybody,” said Fabiyi-King, who added that his favorite piece of music in the current repertoire is The Jacksons’ “Torture.”
Fabiyi-King explained the song’s appeal: “When we play it, it’s nothing but power and force — just pushing and pushing and pushing. Hearing that behind you, it really drives you, and makes you want to you pick up your legs and makes you want to finish strong.”
Preparations for members of the Magnificent Marching Machine include memorizing the band’s choreography and musical numbers, plus being ready for whatever the weather dishes out.
Fabiyi-King is bracing for the weather as well. “So far, I’ve doubled up my pairs of socks, wearing long johns beneath my clothing,” and added that he also has hand warmers ready.
The Morgan State University marching band will be in their blue and orange uniforms. Fabiyi-King will stand out in his tall, white hat, called a shako, and lead the band as he marches with a drum major’s mace.
Watch one of the marching band’s halftime performances from October: