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Local high school students to play in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

May 20, 2009
Both Berlin and Gorham will be sending flutists to the Macy's marching band this Thanksgiving, to play before 250,000 spectators and millions more television viewers in the 83rd Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Tessa Bunnell, 16, a junior at Berlin High, and Sam Santy, 17, a junior at Gorham High, will head to New York City for four days of practice before the big event this fall.

Both Ms. Bunnell and Ms. Santy had to submit an application and a recording of a solo performance to be considered.

Ms. Santy was accepted in 2007 and played in the parade that year.

"It's fun because you're with 200 people who are all passionate about music," she said. She convinced Ms. Bunnell, whom she knew from the North Country Music Festival, to try out for a spot this year.

"I'm excited," Ms. Bunnell said, "and I'll probably be nervous."

According to Berlin High music teacher David Arsenault, Berlin has never sent a student to the Macy's Parade.

"We don't know exactly what it's like," he said.

But Ms. Bunnell can get the story from Ms. Santy. Everyone stays at one hotel, Ms. Santy said, where the boys and the girls have separate rooms. Everyone winds up hanging out in the stairwells and hallways. Drummers drum on the stairs and everyone stays up late, she said. The experience is great, she said, because it is a chance to spend time with people who love to play music. And connections she made in 2007 have endured.

"There's quite a few of us that stay in touch," Ms. Santy said.

Ms. Bunnell said she is can't wait for the experience. She's been in a number of music festivals around the state, but this is by far the biggest she's been a part of. She is thrilled to go spend the week practicing and playing in New York.

Ms. Santy said that last time the experience was overwhelming.

"Really I don't remember much," she said. "It was all a blur."

But, she said, she didn't make a mistake.

Tessa Bunnell is the daughter of Mike and Camilla Bunnell of Berlin. Sam Santy is the daughter of Michele Santy of Gorham.

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